A taste of their own medicine
India took England on at their own game on day one. And it paid off handsomely in a thrilling counter-attack which saw them take favourite position. They are 2.407/5, England are 2.809/5 and the draw is 4.407/2.
England's ultra-aggression approach may only have served to provide India with the excuse to do the same. Well, at least it did Rishabh Pant.
Pant, to be fair, has been playing Test cricket the 'England way' for some time. Anything Jonny Bairstow can do, Pant could match. Sixes - some of them one-handed - were a highlight, particularly the 22 off an over he took from Jack Leach.
Did India's romp serve as a reality check? It shouldn't have done. England's impotence with the ball - when there is no seam and swing - was largely evident against New Zealand. It was also true that the home team were adept at knocking over four or five cheaply, only to be held up by the middle- to lower-order.
At 2.809/5, however, England are at the sort of price that punters will consider. Nothing that has happened so far has been that surprising to punters. Their appeal is what they do with the bat these days. Few are unlikely to be put off by India notching around 380 given that England conceded 553 against New Zealand in the second Test and still won. Bet the match odds here.
Should we be aware of the law of averages here, though? Against the Kiwis England completed a hat-trick of record chases - 277 at Lord's, 299 at Trent Bridge and 296 at Headingley. It was the first time a team won chasing 250-plus targets in three successive Tests. It was also the first time a team won three times chasing 250-plus targets in a Test series.
If England are to win this match, it looks highly probable that they will need to make it four-in-a-row. The attack they face - Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj, Mohammad Shami and Ravi Jadeja - is of the highest quality and although the Edgbaston surface does not crumble, it is not as firm as the likes of Headingley or Trent Bridge in the fourth.
India's innings runs are at 392.5 to go over or under at 10/11 with Sportsbook. With India on 337 for seven it has the feel of sell but beware that Shami and Bumrah with the bat changed the course of the series at Lord's last summer with a blistering late stand. Bet the Sportsbook odds here.
Crawley a short
Zak Crawley had a miserable old time in the field. He shelled a catch and gifted Pant four overthrows as England lost their way in the evening sun.
It will take some mental fortitude from the Kent batter to manage a score, keen to make amends, which will not give further fuel to his critics.
Crawley is having a torrid time with the bat. Since his 267 against Pakistan in August 2020, an innings which suggested he'd arrived, Crawley averages just 18 in Tests.
But it is only 11 innings ago since his century against West Indies in North Sound in March. That is why Ben Stokes has said Crawley will play all summer.
That provides an opportunity for the punter to make hay. There are swathes of data - including from first-class cricket - which suggests Crawley is out of his depth. Cricket...Only Bettor contributor Edmund Bayliss called it from game one, by the way.
Selling Crawley's runs is the way to go, then with Sportsbook. The sweet spot may appear to be just below that average as Crawley is unlikely to be shy with his shots.
However, he has been dismissed for 10 or fewer in an incredible 23 of his 44 Test innings. That suggests a runs line of 19.5 or 20.5 should be a short. Bet the Sportsbook odds here.
Top England bat wins/matches last 3 years
For top England runscorer in the first dig, Joe Root has been boosted to 12/5 by Sportsbook. We have already recommended Ollie Pope at 5/1 on the basis that he should be shorter on win rate.
Ben Stokes, not so long ago, would have been a big bet at 6/1 but it bang in line with his win rate. Jonny Bairstow is 9/2. Bet the Sportsbook odds here.