Turning pitch could produce fast result

India v England
Saturday 13 February, 04:00
TV: live on Channel 4

India need to improve attitude

India are expected to make changes in personnel as they look to overcome a 1-0 deficit at the first opportunity. They would be better served focussing on a change in attitude, however.

To put it bluntly, India were shambolic in the first Test. But little was made of that on the feed the Channel 4 broadcast took because of the fear of home commentators criticising the team. They should have been lambasted.

In the first innings they bowled 20 no-balls, there were overthrows, fielders consistently fumbled and Rohit Sharma dropped a dolly. This lackadaisical attitude was then exposed with the bat with soft dismissals.

Shahbaz Nadeem has already been axed and Washington Sundar, despite his composure with the bat, could join him as India cling to the falsehood that they only lost because of the duo’s lack of contribution with the ball. Axar Patel looks certain to play with Kuldeep Yadav also added.

Possible XI Rohit, Gill, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Pant, Axar, Ashwin, Kuldeep, Ishant, Bumrah

England set for changes

England have been ruthless. They have dropped Dom Bess for Moeen Ali and rested James Anderson.

Although Bess has a happy knack of taking wickets with dreadful deliveries, it is a habit which England have recognised cannot last. Will Moeen offer more control? England decided they couldn’t afford Bess to be offering a boundary chance every over.

Jofra Archer has been ruled out with an elbow injury, meaning Olly Stone will raise his hopes of getting a game. It’s between him and Chris Woakes for the final spot. The plan all along was for Anderson to miss game two, keeping him frsh for the third Test under lights in Ahmedabad. But that could change after his brilliant display of reverse swing. Stuart Broad is certain to play..

Jos Buttler has returned home and wll be replaced by Ben Foakes. It doesn’t weaken England. Foakes is very unfortunate not have been a pick after his excellent tour of Sri Lanka.

Possible XI Burns, Sibley, Lawrence, Root, Stokes, Pope, Moeen, Foakes, Woakes, Broad, Leach.

Pitch report

The MA Chidambarram pitch for game one was a classic India Test wicket. It was best for batting on day one before deteriorating by day two. We expect more of the same at the same venue.

In fact, early indications are that it could take faster turn earlier. It is true that the spin was slow throughout the first match. The reason for the speedier spin is a different soil. This strip prepared is different to the red soil we saw in game one and it breaks up much faster.

It raises the possibility of a quick result. We are reluctant to play the innings runs market until we get a look at how it plays but it would be remiss not to point out the possibility of laying the match to go to a fifth day.

Toss crucial

Never has a toss been more crucial. England could take a giant leap to a series win of the flip goes their way. If it doesn’t, they face a monumental task to avoid defeat batting on a potential terror track in the fourth.

India are currently 1.728/11, England 3.953/1 and the draw is 5.905/1. If the hosts bat first they are likely to be sub 1.501/2. England are likely to be no better than 3.002/1. If that price is available we should probably take it.

The easiest money maker is for England to bat first, enjoy one partnership of 100 or more in the first three wickets and then lay the crashing draw price.

Tops value

Joe Root’s double century in the first innings was faultless. He is now eyeing a fourth-consecutive high bat. Sportsbook make him 7/4. Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope will be popular at 5/1 the pair. If it is a raging turner, Moeen Ali and Ben Foakes have appeal at 10/1 each.

Virat Kohli has had his price boosted from 2/1 to 12/5 for top India bat. Shubman Gill, who looked in superb touch, is 4/1.

Ravi Ashwin has had his price boosted for top India wicket-taker in the first-innings to 21/10. Kuldeep, once considered better than Ashwin, is 10/3.


Can India improve? This week on Cricket…Only Bettor

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