The first test between England and India has, so far, proven to be full of surprises. Following a distinctly uninspiring performance against Bangladesh, England travelled to India for the five-test series as the proverbial underdogs.
Despite sporting a stiff upper lip and saying all the right things, England’s players know they have a mammoth task against the top-ranked test side in the world. So too do the pundits. Before the first ball had been bowled, England cricket legend Ian Botham acknowledged that the three lions could struggle; especially if bowlers Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja can find the wickets.
However, through all the potential doom and gloom, Botham believes England’s youngsters could surprise a few people. Telling the media that the current squad has the potential to become the number one test team in the world, Botham recalls the 2012/2013 where England “hammered” India.
On that occasion, India was the home side and considered the red hot favourites. However, thanks to a ten-wicket win in Mumbai, England clinched the series 2-1. With the omens seemingly on their side, England appears to be upsetting the odds once again.
Indeed, before the start of the first test, the odds makers gave Trevor Bayliss’s men a 12/1 chance of winning the series outright. However, following a storming first day performance by England’s Ben Stokes (128), Joe Root (124) and Moeen Ali (117), England have suddenly become the favourites to take the first test.
While there is still a long way to go in the series as a whole, England’s opening total of 537 was hugely impressive. Now, it’s worth noting that India’s fielders fumbled three easy takes early in the day, which if they’d have caught them, could have changed the dynamics dramatically. However, the reality is that they didn’t take their chances, and that’s given England a huge boost.
A quick look at the betting markets for the first test shows England at 21/10 with Sun Bets on Day 2, while Sky Bet has the home side out at 7/1. Following an impressive session in front of the stumps, England’s Ali is currently the bowling favourite to take the most wickets in the first test. Sky Bet‘s number crunchers have priced the youngster at 100/30, while Adil Rashid to take the most wickets is currently 7/2.
Of course, India may be down at this point, but they’re certainly not out. Murali Vijay is currently leading India’s batting betting line at Sun Bets, Sky Bet and Coral, but it’s the latter’s “to score 75” odds that look the most appealing. With the 25 not out after facing 70 balls, Vijay certainly looked calm in the face of a potential upset. Indeed, after striking four fours (three against Stuart Broad), he’ll certainly be confident of more when he returns to the crease.
In fact, it’s this kind of steady hand that could help India right an opening day full of wrongs. England’s batsmen were totally dominant against India’s spinners, but a veteran like Vijay could set the example his peers need to regain their composure. As it stands, Sun Bets‘ 8/1 on India to win the first test is the longest odds you’ll currently get, but whether or not it’s a wise wager remains unclear.
Yes, India came through England’s opening attack with no casualties to score 63, but there is a long way to go on Day 3. If Vijay and Gautam Gambhir can amass some early runs, it will certainly settle the nerves in the Indian dressing room. However, an early fumble reminiscent of those we saw on Day 1 could send a shockwave through the side and allow England to rattle off some wickets.
For many, England was never expected to be in this position after opening the batting in the first test. However, now they are in this position, the pressure could be on, and it will be up to Alastair Cook to impart some words of wisdom on his rising stars. If he can do that and India’s batting line crumbles, England could easily clinch the first test to set-up an enthralling conclusion to the series.
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