England have confirmed that Steven Finn has been ruled out of the opening Test with India courtesy of a thigh injury.
Andy Flower’s side are 4/1 shots to begin the three-Test series with a win, while India can be backed at 11/8 but a stalemate, at 6/5, is the expected outcome.
Both sides’ ability to take 20 wickets is seriously questioned by the way the betting has gone, with two strong batting line-ups expected to cancel each other out on a typically flat sub-continent pitch.
Without one of their mainstream quicks, England’s hopes of getting the Indians all-out twice have been dealt a significant blow, yet the hosts’ chances of doing the same are also made harder courtesy of the Middlesex man’s most likely replacement.
Tim Bresnan should step up to support senior pace men Stuart Broad and James Anderson and, although he’s not the strongest with the ball, he knows what he’s doing at the crease, as his average of 36.27 will attest.
If Flower and Alastair Cook are feeling adventurous they could unleash Monty Panesar as an alternative replacement and go all out for the win in Ahmedabad.
A liability in the field and irrelevant with the bat, Panesar offers little to the team aside from his exceptional skills in the slow bowling department and there’s no better place to exemplify these than in India.
Pitching Monty into the fold is risky for more reasons than the fact that he’ll drop every catch that comes his way and is a walking-wicket at the best of times – his record against the Indians is surprisingly poor.
In eight matches against this opposition he’s picked up just 19 wickets at a dizzying average of 53.58, compared to his 33.42 career average for the 142 batsmen that he’s dismissed.
These Indian toils make it even more of a gamble to select Panesar for this clash and, with Samit Patel expected to swing the bat in the middle order, England have a second spinning option to support Graeme Swann. A third one could be a touch on the extreme side.
The only viable way that Panesar will come into the fray is if England opt to go with Jonny Bairstow in place of Patel, but after the Nottinghamshire star’s performance in the warm-up games, as well as his spinning ability, it seems unlikely he will be overlooked meaning Bresnan is almost certain to get the nod in Finn’s stead.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date