England’s tour of India has begun with their batsmen scoring plenty of hundreds in three warm-up games in which the Three Lions did not suffer a single loss.
Yet, despite these positive signs, England’s price to win the first Test has drifted to 4/1 from the 10/3 that was on offer prior to the tour’s commencement.
The reasons behind this are threefold: the first being that, although they did not lose a warm-up game, they didn’t win one either, injuries are the second and the third is the lack of spin bowling they faced in practice.
Both Kevin Pietersen and Jonathon Trott hit tons against Haryana to supplement big scores from the likes of Samit Patel and Alastair Cook in earlier tour matches, which surely bodes well.
The South African-born pair have moved in alongside their captain to form a threesome of joint-favourites to be the most productive with the bat in England’s opening innings of competitive play.
All three can be backed at 7/2 to be the biggest contributors to the total.
However, when the real action gets underway in Ahmedabad England will have to contend with a different class of bowler from the ones they’ve currently faced and, with the pitches on the sub-continent favouring the masters of the slower delivery, the biggest challenges still await.
Harbhajan Singh returns to the fold after picking up a match-winning four for 12 the last time he turned his arm over against the England batsmen, albeit in Twenty20 game.
He’s a 2/1 shot to be the Indian top wicket-taker in the first innings of the first Test.
It is Ravi Ashwin, however, who the bookies feel will be the main thorn in England’s paw in the series opener.
He recorded career-high bowling figures when his side entertained New Zealand earlier in the year, taking 6/31 and can be backed at 7/4 to outshine his fellow bowlers in the first innings.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date