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India v Australia First Test Betting: Harbhajan to be a hero

Watson will bat at number four

"We expect the Turbanator to wreak havoc again and India look the value"

Back India at 2.3611/8

Ed Hawkins previews the first of four Tests between these new rivals, starting in Chennai early on Friday. He expects the hosts to be strong

India v Australia
Start time: 04.00GMT
TV: live on Sky Sports

Harbhajan Singh has made a return to the India team and will play his 100th Test in Chennai. As ever it seems, India are hoping that a touring side will be undone by spin. He is one of three spinners in the squad, Pragyan Ojha and Ravi Ashwin the others. Ojha is most likely to miss out. Otherwise the big names are there: Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, MS Dhoni. But again there is not much to get excited about in the pace department. Ishant Sharma leads an attack which was found wanting against England.

The tourists have named their XI already. A show of strength or insecurity? It could well be the latter. When Australians feel most under threat they like a show of bravado to try to fool their aggressors that they are unaffected. David Warner, who will bat with a splint on an injured thumb, and Ed Cowan will open with Shane Watson and Michael Clarke at numbers four and five respectively. Nathan Lyon is the only spinner picked.

Series odds
Australia are up against it. Only three sides have won Test series' in India in 23 years. That the last outfit to do it was England a matter of weeks ago does not suggest India are about to lose back-to-back series. That last happened in 1983-84 when West Indies and England triumphed. But Australia have only four players who have played these conditions before and that has to be the greatest obstacle. It is also interesting to note that, of South Africa, England and Pakistan, Australia have the worst win-loss ratio there since 1995. Considering the now absent titans they once boasted, that suggests an inherent inability to cope. India are 1.574/7 to take honours with Australia 5.104/1 and the draw 5.004/1.

Correct score
India are 18.0017/1 for a 4-0 whitewash. A repeat of the 2-0 win in 2008 is 7.6013/2 and is only marginally pipped for favourite status by a 1-1 draw at 7.4013/2. We are not sure about that. At this stage of the Indian season pitches are considerably more worn and dusty. Draws might be hard to come by. A 3-1 India victory is 10.009/1 and 2-2 16.0015/1.

First Test odds
Did you know that 15 times since 1995 Indian spinners have taken five-wicket hauls against Australia? Almost half of those have been by the hand of Harbhajan. We expect the Turbanator to wreak havoc again and India look the value call for game one at 2.3611/8. We are counting on Australia's inexperience against spin undoing their challenge. Of the 13 wickets to fall in their warm-up against India A, 11 were to spin. The others were run out. There is another weaknesses India could show up, chiefly the one spinner. When England won there they had two twirlers. Peter Siddle at No 8 is not great, either. Australia are 4.407/2 and the draw is 2.829/5.

First-innings runs
In the last five first-match innings at the Chidambaram Stadium the average score is 285. There have been low totals by visiting sides, though: 167 by West Indies in 2002 and 235 by Australia in 2004. Australia were beaten with 18 wickets falling to spin.

Top India runscorer
MS Dhoni and Tendulkar have ground form. Dhoni top scored for India against England in this last Test in 2008 and then the Little Master hit a century in the second innings as the hosts came under pressure. They are 6.005/1 and 5.309/2 respectively.

Top Australia runscorer
Unlike India, Australia have been in rather good form in this format of late. One of the reasons for that has been the runscoring of Clarke who has a whopping 1,080 runs in the last nine matches at an average of 77. That's a captain. He is 4.10n/a. You might get 2.001/1 for a 50 in first dig.

Recommended bet
India at 2.3611/8

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21 February 2013

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