England odds-on to secure first Test win over South Africa

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England’s summer schedule continues with the first of four Tests against South Africa.

But the key note about this opening encounter at Lord’s, is that it marks the first Test for Joe Root as England captain.

The Yorkshireman has had to wait for this opportunity, having been announced as Alastair Cook’s successor several months ago.

But now he leads England into action as 10/11 favourites in central London.

That leaves South Africa as 3/1 outsiders to land the first blow, with a draw chalked up at 9/4.

England will hope to take advantage of the tourists’ selection woes.

South Africa are without Dale Steyn through injury, while star batter AB de Villiers is also absent for the entire four-Test series as he returns from an elbow concern.

And earlier this week it was announced that Faf du Plessis will also miss out at Lord’s, as he returns home following the birth of his first child.

So it’s a good chance for Root to kick-off his reign with a win, and he boasts an attack-minded squad.

James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood will look to do the damage with the ball, while Gary Ballance has been recalled to the Test side after averaging 101 on County duty this season.

Root, ranked third in the world for Test batsmen, is 5/1 to be England’s leading 1st innings runscorer during a home victory this weekend.

It’s 11/4 that Cook top-scorers in his first Test since Root was announced as his successor, while 5/1 says Ballance carries his domestic form onto the international scene.

Hashim Amla heads South Africa’s betting, with 5/2 available to be their 1st innings leading scorer.

Despite the Tourists’ absentees, they remain dangerous – especially with their bowling line-up.

Kagiso Rabada is the man England will need to contain, with the 22-year-old already boasting 71 wickets from 17 Tests. The experienced Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander should keep the hosts on their toes.

England should have enough here – especially with the bat – but the Proteas will only get stronger as the summer progresses, so Root’s men should make the most of this opening opportunity to lay down an early marker.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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