First Test Betting India v England: Tourists are poor starters

Ed thinks England are unlikely to start with a win

Ed Hawkins predicts doom and gloom for England when the first Test of four begins in Ahmedabad on Thursday...

"England have not won any of their last 10 first Tests of a series in Asia."

Back India to win at 2.486/4

India
Such a wealth of talent makes England look like paupers in comparison. Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni are the run getters which will have punters salivating. The experienced Zaheer Khan and lanky, awkward Ishant Sharma are the pacers charged with softening up the batsmen for the spinners. India could play three but it is more likely they will go with Harbhajan Singh and Ravi Ashwin. As is the wont of sub-continental sides facing England, they have talked up a 'mystery' ball. This time it is Ashwin's. He probably doesn't need one. He is a class act.


England
Steven Finn is expected to miss out. The fast bowler has been struggling with a thigh injury and he did not bowl in England's last net session. Stuart Broad, who has been hobbling with a heel problem, should be fine, however. Nick Compton should make his Test debut, opening the batting with new captain, Alastair Cook while Graeme Swann is back with the squad after returning home to be with his sick daughter. Samit Patel and Tim Bresnan are expected to get the nod at six and eight respectively.


Venue and conditions/innings runs
There have been only 11 Tests at the Sardar Patel Stadium and the average first-innings score is 354. The problem is that that sequence started back in 1983. Given that there were some mediocre scores up to around the mid-1990s, it is reasonable to reckon that the teams should be pushing 400. Indeed, three of the last four first digs have been more than 400 (oh, alright, so India were two short against Sri Lanka in 2005) so you get the picture. India would be more likely to breach such a total. There was one bizarre batting show. India were bowled out for 76 against South Africa in 2008 when Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini destroyed the hosts. That is encouraging for England. The weather is not. Hot and humid.


Match Odds
England have not won any of their last 10 first Tests of a series in Asia. It is not a great stat for those considering getting on the 5.204/1. Five of those have been against India and they have lost four.
At the best of times England are slow starters on foreign trips and this appears to be heightened on the slow, low and dusty surfaces in Asia. It all means that India, who have been busily preparing and working hard at a training camp (not always the case, they were undercooked in the horrible whitewash in England), look stonking value at 2.588/5. The draw is 2.3611/8 and that is where we expect to see most movement. It is likely - especially if India bat first - that the stalemate will be sub 2.01/1 well before the lunch break so there is an obvious trading option there.


Top India batsman
Ahmedabad is not a classic track for the bully big bat. It is subtlety and art which seems to pay off here. Rahul Dravid has most runs, followed by Tendulkar and then followed by VVS Laxman. Tendulkar is 5.509/2 for honours. Favourite is Sehwag at 4.904/1 and he averages less than 40 on this ground. He did, however, hit 173 against the Kiwis last time out there.

Top England batsman
Poor old Compton gets a 7.206/1 quote for honours in his first Test. Don't they know who he's related to? Cook is 4.607/2 with Jonathan Trott the jolly at 4.30100/30. Fair enough. These two are most likely to bore the pants off all and sundry as they put into place a likely England tactic of hanging on for grim death. Cook is rather suited to these conditions because of the lack of swing and he averages a healthy 43.

Recommended Bet
India to win first Test at 2.588/5

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