Don’t desert Malan just yet

India v England
Sunday 14 March 13.30
TV: live on Sky Sports

Malan edge

Often in this column we discuss the need to retain faith in a player, or team. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Everyone can have a bad day at the office. And so on. The same is true for success. One swallow does not make summer.

Twice in this India-England series we have backed home opener KL Rahul for top bat honours on the basis that his win rate was out of line with his odds. Twice we have lost. But that’s okay because we know that we’ve had a value wager. We have taken a wrong price. It’s all we should ever do.

The problem comes when we have to be resolute and go in for a third time, especially after Rajul has returned scores of nought and one. Is there something wrong with his form? Has he been unlucky to get a couple of good ones early? It is hard to keep the faith.

We would be betting him again for this match. Alas, the decision is taken out of our hands however. Rahul’s double blank has clipped his win rate in the last two years to a - still very healthy - 25%. Sportsbook rate him at 5/2, implied probability of 28.6%. Sportsbook are now overrating his chances of top scoring for India. So we can’t bet. We can’t bet Virat Kohli for the same reason at 11/4.

Dawid Malan is next. Two bets, two failures. But two decent innings. Do we go in again at 7/2 (implied probability of 22.2%)? Those two ‘failures’ have also clipped his win rate but it still gives us a massive edge at 37.5%.

It would be totally and utterly wrong not to take that bet, not least because there is a dearth of value on the market. Favourite Jos Buttler, one win in 10, has been price-boosted to 11/4 but we can’t possibly play. Jason Roy, two wins out of two, is 3/1 but we are against back-to-back winners let alone hat-tricks.

There’s nothing wrong with 15/2 about Malan being the top runscorer in the match and 12/1 about the man of the match gong. We actually think the pitch, batting first at least, suits Malan’s style. He is not a fast starter but can accelerate with the best of them. That is ideal for the surface.

Top India bat last two years wins/matches
Rohit 5/14
Rahul 5/20
Dhawan 3/14
Kohli 4/20
Pant 1/15
Iyer 2/20
Kishan 1/1

Top England bat last two years wins/matches
Malan 6/16
Bairstow 5/20
Morgan 2/21
Buttler 1/10
Moeen 1/9
Stokes 1/8
Roy 3/8
Billings 1/8

Roy a boy

There is limited value on top bowlers, too. The one we hold out hope for is Chris Jordan but Sportsbook are not giving an edge at 3/1 - that’s bang on his win rate. He does return 38% of the time but we like to bet for a winner rather than a tie here.

One name that does stand out is Reece Topley at 9/2. As discussed in the match odds preview he could well come into England’s XI at the expense of Tom Curran. Topley’s left-arm darts could be extremely useful. Jofra Archer looks skinny at 11/4. We’re also doubtful that he will play every match in this series which at least brings others, potentially, into play.

With the chaser finding life so easy, it is not a bad ploy to take big prices with one or two wickets being enough. So we note Shardul Thakar at 9/2 for India as well.

Top India bowler wins/matches last two years
Chahar 3 3t/12
Thakur 2 3t/17
Saini 2/10
Chahal 1 3t/15
B Kumar t/8
Bumrah 1 t/8
Natarajan 1 t/3
Shami 2t/5
Jadeja 1 2t/10
Washington 1 3t/21
Krunal 1/7
Hardik 1/6
T = ties

Top England bowler wins/matches last two years
Jordan 5 3t/21
Rashid 3 2t/20
Archer 2/9
T Curran 1 3t/20
S Curran 1 3t/10
Wood t/9
Stokes 1 t/8

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