Ed Hawkins analyses the top India runscorer market and wonders whether the skip can do it again at Lord's from Thursday
"How can Vijay have possibly have forgotten how to play the conditions? Perhaps he just had a bad few days and his two dismissals were a reminder that you’re not in until you’ve got 50 or 60"
Pujara and Vijay might be value
It is a struggle to think of a more popular bet than Virat Kohli to be top India runscorer in India's first innings at Lord's. And why not? The logic is pretty sound.
Kohli is the best batsman in the world. He showed that in the first Test at Edgbaston when he made a majestic 149. His second-dig 51 almost got them home in the chase. His haul of 200 runs took him to the official No-1 spot on the ICC rankings. No other Indian made more than 31 in the entire game. This is the epitome of the phrase 'little to beat'.
The big question, though, ahead of the contest at Headquarters is this: is he the right price at 2/1 with Betfair Sportsbook? The answer, categorically, is no on pure numbers. Kohli is a 13/5 chance on his career.
Is it that simple, though? When Kohli has shown he is so far ahead of his team-mates, who have shown they are so low down on the technical spectrum, does that make him a bet?
The likes of Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane seemed incapable of coping with any semblance of seam or swing at Edgbaston. These shortcomings are a major concern for India in the rest of the series.
With Kohli scoring 43 per cent of their runs in Birmingham, the rest, rather sadly, fitted perfectly the stereotype of the sub-continental Asian batsman coming to different shores and being unable to cope in alien conditions.
That is why India would be foolish not to recall Chet Pujara, a solid, technically obsessed batter who could drop anchor as an opener or at No 3. Sportsbook rate him a 5/1 chance and with county experience at the likes of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire behind him no other tourist can claim to have his nous of conditions.
On career numbers, Pujara is only marginal value by 0.8 ticks and the poor run of form which led to him being dropped hardly means we can rush to take the bet.
Vijay, a 16/5 chance on career numbers, was perhaps the biggest disappointment of India's batsmen. He has shown he has the aptitude for scoring runs abroad, particularly in England. On the last tour in 2014 he top scored for India in the series with 402 runs, including a 95 at Headquarters.
How can he possibly have forgotten how to play the conditions? Perhaps he just had a bad few days and his two dismissals were a reminder that you're not in until you've got 50 or 60. Certainly the 11/2 that Sportsbook offer is clear value.
Similarly, it could be a wake-up call for Rahane. Rahane managed a ton at Lord's in 2014. The 13/2 on offer is about right, however, considering how often he cops in the market.
Root all the rage
England's top-bat market is shaped similarly. There is one standout contender in Joe Root, who landed the odds in Birmingham. Root, despite a long run without a ton, is remarkably consistent in terms of getting to 50 at the moment.
Sportsbook go 12/5. Again, it's too short. He's more like an 11/4 shot. But, again, it could be argued the dearth of rivals make him solid.
We had an inkling that Jonny Bairstow might be worth following as he has looked in good touch. But, unfortunately, the 5/1 is nowhere near right.
2018 - points p-l: +0.32 (52 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)
(1pt level stakes)