Hawkeye on England v India Second Test: It's Kohli v Root

Virat Kohli
Kohli is overdue a win but is he a bet?

Ed Hawkins finds value at 3/1 and 6/1 on the side markets for the England v India second Test which starts on Thursday at Lord's...

"Surely we should be getting involved at such inflated odds? A great being available at such a price is rare"

(1pt) Back V Kohli top India bat 4.03/1

England v India
Thursday 12 August 11.00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Does Kohli get another chance?

Virat Kohli will have been smarting after the first Test for more than one reason. Although India being denied a victory dance by the rain would have hurt - and still does - there would have been another niggle of disappointment. Joe Root outclassed him.

Kohli is a fierce competitor and he would have set a target pre-series of beating his opposite number for runs. Part of the much-vaunted Big Four, including Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and, of course, Root, it will not sit well with Kohli that not only is he way below his best but a rival is opening up a chasm.

Root was superb with the bat against India in the winter. Kohli was not, failing to land a 50 in the first-innings or a top-bat effort. The Yorkshireman's scores of 64 in the first dig and 109 in the second - a knock which could be classed as an epic if England avoid defeat in the series - was the real difference between the teams.

Can Kohli begin to redress the balance? Sportsbook say 'meh'. They make him 3/1 for top India bat in the first-innings. That's a double boost. Previously they lengthened his odds to 13/5. Now they have gone in again, desperate to get him in the book.

It means that Kohli, rightly regarded as a master, is priced at the same rate as the mortals. Surely we should be getting involved at such inflated odds? It's rare to see a great available at such a price.

On that rationale alone it is a bet. On win rate (see the data below) it provides an extraordinary edge. Kohli in his last 34 first-innings cops 35% of the time. Sportsbook say he has a 25% chance.

Pope deserves faith

Of course Sportsbook have been taking on Kohli for a while now. And they are cleaning up. He has three wins in his last 16 (or two years if you prefer). So if we're taking the 3/1 we have to repeat the mantra: form is temporary, class is permanent.

A comfort rug may be betting Kohli for a first-innings 50 or century, priced at 2/1 and 4/1 respectively with Sportsbook. On three year form, however, neither are value which is curious given Sportsbook's keenness to get him in the book. The prices are out by one per cent and four per cent. Neither are a value bet on two-year form.

Root offers a different conundrum. On the win data he is no way near value at a price-boosted 12/5 but his recent run-making is exceptional. No-one doubts his ability. The uncomfortable feeling that betting him is following the money may be insurmountable.

Unsurprisingly, Root is overrated for a 50. In the last two years he is 2/1 for a first-innings 50 but Sportsbook go even money. The 9/2 for a century should be 5/1 on the data.

An alternative to Root is Ollie Pope, who is expected to return to the XI after injury. Pope is not a 6/1 chance on win rate as you can see. Whether he can come in cold and be at his best remains to be seen. He might be one for game three when better for the run so we'll be cautious with our stake.

India top batsman wins/matches
Kohli 12/34
Pujara 5 t/36
Rahane 4/35
Ashwin 1/29
Pant 3/20

India top bowler wins/matches
Ashwin 9 3t/28
Ishant 5 t/27
Bumrah 3 t/20
Shami 5 2t/30
Jadeja 2/23
(t = ties)

England top bat wins/matches
Root 11/61
Pope 4/19
Burns 4 t/25
Sibley 0/21
Crawley 4/15
Buttler 3/34

England top bowler wins/matches
Anderson 10 6t/46
Broad 9 9t/53
Leach 0/12

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