Kevin Pietersen was the focus of a media circus prior to England’s first tour match of the winter in India, yet it was Samit Patel who stole the headlines with a majestic middle-order century.
The Nottinghamshire all-rounder staked a claim to be selected for the first Test, which England are not expected to win at 10/3.
In completing his first ton for the Three Lions, Patel demonstrated he has the ability to score runs down the batting order on the low, turning pitches of the sub-continent and, as a slow bowler, he can also be put to use with the ball.
England would be well served going with two spinners in India which means Andy Flower and Alastair Cook have to decide which of Patel and Monty Panesar will get the nod, yet the former’s excellent effort at the crease in the first tour match should surely give him the edge.
Panesar is an infinitely better bowler yet isn’t far from village standard with the bat, as well as being a liability in the field. Patel, although he won’t take the wicket hauls you can expect from Panesar, is reliable in all three aspects of the game.
With Flower’s approach to picking teams being weighted more towards putting runs on the board first and foremost, Patel will be favoured.
He also picked up a wicket to go with his 104-run stand in the match against India ‘A’, but could not outscore prolific Cook, who finished his innings unbeaten on 119. The Essex opener is great value at 3/1 to be England’s top runscorer in his first series as captain in a country where he averages a steady 43.43 from four Test matches.
Spin prospers on the sub-continent, as exemplified by Yuvraj Singh’s five-for in the first tour match. Graeme Swann’s three wickets were encouraging from an England perspective, but five wickets split between quicks Tim Bresnan and Jimmy Anderson against a strong batting line up bodes well for England’s chances in the Test series.
Swann understandably heads the betting in the top-wicket taker market as a 7/4 shot, but Bresnan’s performance with the ball adds value to his 12/1 to take the most Three Lions wickets and could be worth a bet in an each-way capacity, while Anderson isn’t a bad shout at 4/1 either.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date