England suffered a second loss in as many matches ahead of their ODI series with India, making them very difficult to back to win the opening game in Rajkot.
The visitors are 6/5 to overcome their hosts, but after being comfortably beaten by a Delhi side consisting of just a handful of recognisable names their hopes of victory when the real action gets underway can’t possibly be very high.
Ashley Giles has some real concerns over his attack for the upcoming series after his bowlers failed to defend a score of 295 in conditions expected to suit the men with the ball.
Instead, the Delhi side were rarely troubled with Shikhar Dhawan excelling in the middle. He scored a majestic 110 before being trapped lbw by Joe Root, of all people.
Dhawan has apparently been on the periphery of national selection for a while now and this big score will do his chances of claiming an opening slot no harm, especially with Virender Sehwag dropped and Gautam Gambhir’s place under scrutiny.
Still, the fact that England’s mainline bowlers could not see off a man who previously hasn’t been deemed good enough to play for the Indian first team is very worrying.
One positive to come from the warm up matches, however, is Ian Bell’s batting.
He was one of the few who didn’t come to the party during the Three Lions’ brilliant Test series triumph over the same opposition pre-Christmas but, with a score of 91 from the first practice game bettered by a 108 at the top of the order in the second, he looks well-placed to be England’s top runscorer in the opening ODI and this can be backed at 7/2.
The Warwickshire man shared opening duties with Alastair Cook for the first time since the tour to India resumed and the skipper’s knock of 44 was encouraging. He, unsurprisingly, shares favouritism to top score with Kevin Pietersen to head the England run scoring charts in Rajkot at 3/1, while Eoin Morgan fans will be confident of him outscoring his teammates at 4/1 following a 50 in the final warm up.
With England’s bowlers misfiring on their return to the sub-continent, patriotic punters will be better served having a flutter on the top runscorer markets as opposed to the match betting alternative given the unlikelihood of the Indian big-hitters being kept at bay in Rajkot.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date