Toss still key in decider

India v England
Saturday 20 March, 13:30
TV: live on Sky Sports

Yadav to the fore

India levelled the series with a strong showing in game four and although the margin of victory (eight runs) looked slight, they were rarely troubled defending 186.

The key for India was to go hard up front as they recognised that settling for a score of 160 on a sluggish surface batting first wouldn’t be enough when the dew came into play. Suryakumar Yadav was the architect, striking at 180 as he brought IPL form to the international stage. He could have been cowed by the double failure of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul but not a bit of it.

Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer then tucked in at the death. Iyer was explosive, striking at 205 to prove he is not just an anchor-type player. Rahul Chahar and Hardik Pandya were the pick of the bowlers. With Hardik bowling again, India suddenly look superbly balanced.

Probable XI Rohit, Rahul, Yadav, Kohli, Pant, Iyer, Hardik, Thakur, Sundar, Kumar, Chahal

Malan under pressure

England-bias analysts are getting their knickers in a twist at Dawid Malan’s poor sequence of form. He should be dropped, they say, because although he scores an absolute mountain of runs, is the world T20 No 1 bat and has helped England rise to the same position, he scores those runs in the wrong way. Okay, then.

Malan, who has never been popular, will need very thick skin indeed if the constant criticism doesn’t get to him.
Maybe it already has. The boffins want Ben Stokes to bat at No 3 with Sam Billings moving into the middle order. The sharp-point of the geometry compass is also being wielded at Chris Jordan, who has suffered a dip in form, and Sam Curran. We’ll go along with the latter. Surely England now see the benefit of picking Moeen Ali or Liam Livingstone to add batting depth and provide some useful overs of spin?

Possible XI Roy, Buttler, Malan, Bairstow, Morgan, Stokes, Moeen, Archer, Jordan, Wood

Pitch report

India provided the perfect blueprint for negating the dew factor in game four. Go hard or go home. It is a strategy that has taken three games to come to fruition - although tight bowling also had plenty to do with it - but both teams are aware that getting past 170 is vital if they are going to defend on a wet outfield. That’s a fillip to innings runs punters. We can now be sure that neither team will settle for what feels like a par score. Both teams to score more than 170 with Sportsbook at 7/2 looks like a wager.

Chaser has advantage

The match odds market can barely separate the pair. India are marginal 1.8910/11 favourites with England 2.1011/10. These are pretty much identical odds to game four.

We still think the toss is significant with a wet ball harder to grip and the pitch taking extra zip. India will probably shorten more significantly bowling first than England.

We are on a 3-2 series win for both on the correct score so we don’t have to play with both results covered. But if you’ve not had either wager, betting England in a chase feels like value. There is a caveat this time though: we want that extra batting option in Moeen or Livingstone for the wasteful Sam Curran.

Tops value

There’s not much to choose between the front three in India’s batting - Virat Kohli at 2/1, Rohit Sharma at 5/2 and KL Rahul at 11/5. Yadav is 7/2. Pant also catches the eye at 7s but do bear in mind he is coming in three down.
For England, Stokes looks toppy again at 8/1. He topped last time so it’s a surprise he’s not been cut. Malan has been pushed out again to 7/2.

India v England ODI Series Preview on Cricket…Only Bettor

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