England kick-off their test series with India at 04.00 (GMT) on Wednesday 9 November, and the magnitude of their task is best highlighted by saying that their odds to win the series are nearly triple the odds that Donald Trump will be the American President by the time the first ball is bowled.
Series Betting: India 1/6, Draw 10/1, England 12/1
The universal opinion is that England have no chance. Therefore, the biggest question is what score will the 5-test series end-up – and I’m firmly of the opinion that 5-0 to India is the way forward.
England may have been the last team to beat India on home soil but, amazingly, that was Alistair Cook’s first series as Captain, and India have won their last 4 home series against England, winning 12 of the 13 tests played, with the other one being a wash-out. Those 12 victories weren’t closely fought contests either, and were won by either six wickets, eight wickets, an innings or by more than 100 runs. India also haven’t lost a test at home against anyone since that England win.
That England win was also achieved by a team that included Kevin Pieterson, who played one of his most memorable innings in setting-up the victory. Meanwhile, the twin-spin attack of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann looks much better than England’s current crop of spin-bowlers. Especially when you compare their stats to those of the 99 wickets taken by Ravi Ashwin at 16.50 runs-a-piece.
James Anderson also played a big part, and his ability to bowl more overs than an average pace bowler will be missed in at least the first test, whilst it’s anyone’s guess how fit he will return from the injury that keeps him out of the opening exchange.
If England’s bowlers can’t cut the mustard, then that’s going to put a tremendous amount of pressure on England’s top-order batsmen, who are hardly in the sort of form that will have India trembling in fear. Cook and Root are world-class at their best, though neither looked at their peak in Bangladesh. There’s also uncertainty about who will open the batting with Cook, though both Duckett and Hameed have talent and potential to burn. Jos Butler gives England specialist-batsman options, and the middle order of Ali, Stokes and Bairstow look sure to get some runs, but the pressure on them will surely be too much if the top-order fail to fire.
The pitches in India will also play a part and, though they will not be as biased towards the home team as they were in Bangladesh, that’s because India know that they are a better all-round team than their English counterparts. However, lush outfields are a possibility should India feel threatened by the possibility of reverse-swing, which will already have been nullified somewhat by the Indian’s choice of SG Balls.
It’s hard to not be interested in the 8/15 for India to win the first test, and a flood of money from the big-hitters is likely to pour in before the off. However, the bet I’m having before the series starts is for India to win 5-0. 4/1 may not be the best price ever, but the evidence all points towards England being whitewashed.
India 5-0 @ 4/1