India v England Test Betting: A Rocky road but Cook can ride it

What's next? Alastair Cook and Joe Root ponder defeat in Bangladesh
What's next? Alastair Cook and Joe Root ponder defeat in Bangladesh

England's collapse in Bangladesh leaves them facing a bleak future as they head for a five match series in India, but Ralph Ellis still sees some reasons to support them at long odds...


"India are rightfully 1.558/15 to win the first Test. But Cook has enough away wins on his CV, including that historic success in India four years ago, to think his team can grow into a series."

My nephew has just been to Philadelphia and sent us a video of him running up the famous steps, so I went out last week and bought the boxed set of all six Rocky films. I think I might send them on to Alastair Cook.

If ever he needs a speech, it's now. You know the one: "It ain't about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." How does he move forward to India after what happened in Bangladesh yesterday?

We knew England's batting might be brittle. We knew we were searching for answers in the top order, trying to find a partner for Cook plus anybody else apart from Joe Root who could be relied upon for runs.

What we didn't expect, but maybe should have done, was for England's entire line-up to be blown away in just 135 balls. You have to go back to 1938 for the last time we lost all 10 wickets in a session. If that's what happens against the ninth best Test team in the world, how do we cope when we get to play the number one?

It's all so much doom and gloom. India are 1.162/13 to win the five-match series which starts with the first Test in Rajkot on November 9. It's tempting to think the best bet is for the hosts to win the series 5-0 at the very appealing price of 5.24/1.

But - and maybe I've just gorged on too many Rocky films - I actually think at those prices it's worth taking on India in the series betting. I think there's more resilience in Cook's leadership than he ever gets the credit for.

First of all it looks as if Ben Duckett can be the solution at the top of the order. His dismissal in the first ball after tea began the collapse, but until then he'd batted superbly for his 56. Cook himself is in good form again (and who can forget his match winning 190 in Kokata four years ago?).

Then I know the last time England toured India we had Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar at their peaks, but it was actually the seamers who did a lot of the damage, with Jimmy Anderson and Steven Finn taking wickets. Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad have proved they can be just as effective when the ball begins to reverse in Asian conditions.

Our own spin bowlers will have the help in the next week of former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, who made a strong impression during a brief stint as a consultant during last summer's home series against Pakistan. He can help Adil Rashid and Zafar Ansari build some confidence and hopefully a little more consistency - as well as helping the batsmen work out methods of attack against India's spinners.

It won't be easy to change the mood immediately, and India are rightfully 1.558/15 to win the first Test. But Cook has enough away wins on his CV, including that historic success in India four years ago, to think his team can grow into a series. He also has the explosive power of Stokes who can win a match on his own.

To go back to another Rocky quote: "Every one in a while a person comes along who defies the odds, who defies logic." Cook needs to be that man now.


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