England v India
Friday 1 July, 10:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
England blew New Zealand away with an aggressive, reckless brand of batting previously seen in Test matches only when sides have been chasing a declaration. It was quite something.
Perhaps its greatest achievement was to take focus away from an opening partnership which remains a problem. Alex Lees and Zak Crawley have struggled badly. And yet, what does it matter when Ollie Pope, Joe Root and, above all, Jonny Bairstow, have been in such strong form?
No-one is talking, either, about a bowling group which continues to find wickets hard to come by on unresponsive wickets.
On the latter, they are likely to be able to recall a fit and rested James Anderson, who sat out the third Test win over New Zealand for this game. That means Stuart Broad's place could be under threat from Matt Potts, whose 14 wickets cost 23 each. Broad's 12 cost 35.
Jamie Overton, sensational with the bat on debut and offering a point of difference with the ball, and Jack Leach (ten wickets in the match in Leeds) are undroppable. The only option to retain a fourth pacer is to use Bairstow as wicket-keeper in place of Ben Foakes who has Covid but we suspect Sam Billings will get a chance.
Possible XI: Crawley, Lees, Pope, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Billings, J Overton, Potts, Leach, Anderson
India sweat on Rohit
India's preparation has consisted of one warm-up match against a Leicestershire XI, which included four of their players as they desperately seek form. They have also been hampered by a positive Covid test for Rohit Sharma, the captain.
Rohit faces a race against time to be fit. if he isn't, Mayank Agarwal could open the batting with Shubmann Gill and Jasprit Bumrah could take over the captaincy.
There are some positives. Virat Kohli and Ravi Jadeja both got some confidence-boosting runs. Cheteshwar Pujara has been scoring bucketloads in county cricket in a bid to regain his No 3 position. Pujara may be asked to open if Rohit isn't fit meaning India find room for reserve keeper KS Bharat who has been in decent touch.
With the ball, Jadeja could retain the spinner's slot although if Indian believe the pitch will take spin Ravi Ashwin will also play. Shardul Thakur is likely to offer another seam option alongside Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and, in a show of strength one from Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Siraj and Navdeep Saini.
Possible XI: Gill, Agarwal, Pujara, Kohli, Shreyas, Pant, Jadeja, Thakur, Shami, Bumrah, Siraj
Edgbaston is supposed to be England's fortess. They are roared on by partisan support and the surface has suited their bowlers. However, they have lost their last two at the venue.
Last summer, New Zealand beat them after England managed 303 in the first dig. That was only the fourth time in eight first-innings that more than 300 has been breached.
There is a suspicion that ball will dominate bat. However, we have to treat the two teams differently if they bat first. We would be wary of shorting England runs because of how quickly they score. Instead there's a more confident wager in India struggling.
Their match sharpness is down and their game time in England against the moving ball is inadequate. Laying their total for 325 or more at around the 2.206/5 mark is an option. England v India
Lay the draw
England are 2.021/1, India 3.505/2 and the draw 4.507/2. We're not enamoured with any of those prices for our purposes pre-toss. The flip really should have an impact here with four from six Tests won in the last ten years by the side batting first. Bet the match odds here
Still, if we had to pin our colours to the mast, we would argue that England were in a strong position. It shouldn't be underestimated how big the form and rhythm gap between the two teams is. In that respect, it's not a fair contest.
We have already seen New Zealand caught cold and last summer India took time to adjust to conditions before dominating. Their 2-1 lead in the series before the Old Trafford Test was was postponed last summer - forcing this re-match - is completely irrelevant. For a start, both teams have different captains. India have three wins in their last nine first Test of an away (or one-off) Test away from home.
Hopefully, England's price could lengthen. And over the course of the action it really should. Our big hope, though, is the draw price. There is some rain around on day two and betting in-play by placing an order to lay a point shorter at 3.505/2 is the best option.
England put time back into the game with their fast scoring and India's lack of match time makes the stalemate unlikely. Keep an eye on the odds for the game to go to Day 5 here.
Joe Root and Virat Kohli have been boosted to 12/5 and 3/1 by Sportsbook respectively for top England India bat in first innings. Bairstow is 9/2 and Pujara, best placed given his county stint, is 9/2. With India vulnerable to the moving ball, Anderson's price for man of the match at 8/1 may have appeal. He is 9/4 for most England wickets in the first dig.
Trading advice for England v India on Cricket...Only Bettor