Ed Hawkins crunches the numbers for the final time this series and uncovers value on the runs quote markets for game five at The Oval, from Friday...
"It will be interesting to see how Cook fares because the lack of pressure couldn’t suddenly free him from the shackles"
India have been a major disappointment this summer. They arrived in England as the No 1. rated team, had solid runscorers around the best in the world, Virat Kohli, and a varied and potent bowling attack. They were playing against an England team with doubts over key positions.
Yet they find themselves beaten with a game to spare, as discussed in our match preview here. Preparation for a fifth Test at The Oval should have focussed on their ability to win a historic series victory, particularly after twice being in a gun position in Southampton.
The major reason for India's challenge falling away has been the lack of batting support for Kohli. Ajinkya Rahane is averaging 27.5 and Chet Pujara 48, a number inflated by his unbeaten 132 at the Ageas Bowl.
Pujara is probably they key man here. Despite excellent experience of English conditions, he was left out of the first two Tests. He then needed time to get up to speed before a century last time out which should have proved game defining. It is possible that had Pujara played from game one, India might be level going to south London.
Pujara interests us for this match because he has finally found form. He looked solid and uncomplicated in Southampton, producing exactly the sort of innings you would expect from a player whose technical proficiency is only matched by Kohli.
It is therefore a little surprising to see him get a low runs quote from Betfair Sportsbook for the first-innings. Over/unders are available at 24.5 at 5/6. On reputation and form it appears to be a bet. Do the numbers stack up?
Yes. Going over is value. And it's not often we can say that as most of the time the quote will be out of line with a player's real chance because, on this market, it's one for buyers.
Pujara beats the mark 57 per cent of the time, giving us a crucial 0.08 edge. It's not much but it is rare as we said.
There is also a semblance of ground form to go on. Pujara has an unbeaten 90 in first-class cricket to his name, even if he had a disappointing Test there in 2014 along with the rest of the India team.
Kohli gets a quote of over/under 42.5 at 5/6. As if to illustrate our point as to why Pujara is worth following, this one is too high. Kohli beats the mark only 44 per cent of the time. The sportsbook knows that punters are going to come for Kohli regardless so they can afford to bump up the spread.
Don't be sucked in by Cook farwell
Alastair Cook bids farewell to international cricket. It is a little strange to here him say that he's known he's not been good enough for six months and that there's "nothing left in the tank". One wonders why he didn't make way earlier to give England the chance to find a replacement before the winter.
But if you're England highest runscorer then you probably can pick and choose. It will be interesting to see how he fares because the lack of pressure couldn't suddenly free him from the shackles. Sportsmen play best when relaxed.
But there is little value to be had on pure numbers. The 11/2 Sportsbook offer about him top scoring in the first innings for England is not a great bet. He's about a 9/2 chance on his career numbers but an average of 15 in the series kills the edge.
Sportsbook offer 5/6 about over/under 23.5 Cook runs in the first innings. On his career stats he is bang on the money at 5/6 to go over. But in the last year as his form has fallen off a cliff he is 11/8.
2018 - points p-l: +0.32 (52 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)
(1pt level stakes)