Hawkeye on England v India First Test: Do the big guns fire?

Ravi Ashwin
Ashwin - is he a bet?

Ed Hawkins asks whether three big names can deliver big profits in the first test in Chennai from early Friday...

"The prohibitive pricing on Root opens up the value on Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope confirmed as fit and surely certain to play after the injury to Zak Crawley"

Back Ollie Pope top England first innings bat 5/1 Sportsbook (1pt)

India v England
Friday 5 February, 04:00
TV: live Channel 4

Are Kohli and Root a bet?

Two of the Big Four go head-to-head in the four-Test series between India and England. It gives bettors the opportunity to bet on Virat Kohli and Joe Root. In terms of reputation, support is warranted. But what about their record?

Both men go off at 2/1 for top first-innings runscorer for their respective teams. Those are mighty short prices and - barring Steve Smith's even money for the final Test of the last Ashes summer - they don't come much skinnier.

Let's deal with Kohli first. He has 12 wins in his 28 (spanning three years). That gives him an astonishing win rate of 42.8%. Well, the 2/1 has implied probability of 33% so it is hard not to come to the conclusion that he is value. Our problem is that he won last time out - all the way back in that first Test of the Australia series - and we're often loathe to be on a player for back-to-back wins.

Sportsbook go even money that Kohli scores a first-innings fifty and 10/3 that he scores a first-innings century. Alas, neither are value on three-year win rate. Both were bets before that 77 against Australia so Sportsbook have taken a strong view. Often, they are happy to be one of the best prices in the industry about the great man.

Regular readers of this column will know that we cannot advise a wager on Root at such odds, especially as he is aiming for three-in-a-row. He is a fine player but he is not a consistent winner with a success rate of 16.6%. But he is consistent. That is borne out by a 35% half-century rate on the same study period. Sportsbook go 11/10. It's still to short. The 4/1 about a first-innings ton is a real stinker. He should be more like 8/1.

The prohibitive pricing on Root opens up the value on Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope, confirmed as fit and surely certain to play after the injury to Zak Crawley. Stokes has been advised as a Best Bet on Cricket...Only Bettor this week. Sportsbook go 5/1, giving us an edge of almost four points.

Pope already has four wins and is also 5/1. The Root price problem aside, we can see no evidence that Rory Burns and Dom Sibley should be shorter than Stokes and Pope at 9/2 the pair. Moeen Ali, if he plays, is also value. He's giving us two percentage points probability with Sportsbook's 12/1.

India top batsman wins/matches
Kohli 12/28
Pujara 5 t/30
Rahane 3/29
Ashwin 1/24
Jadeja 1/17
Pant 1/14
Agarwal 2/13
Vihari 2/12

England top bat wins/matches
Stokes 9/41
Root 9/54
Buttler 3/32
Woakes 1/26
S Curran 2/20
Pope 4/13
Burns 3/21
Crawley 3/10
Sibley 0/14

Tops value

Darn it. Sportsbook have finally caught up with the metronomic Ravi Ashwin. It's taken just over a year but the 15/8 is just to skinny on win rate for top India bowler. We would like 2/1.

It could be argued that in home conditions he is more potent - and of course he is - but the vagaries of the Chennai pitch cause a little concern. If grass is left on, Ashwin's edge could be chipped away by the excellent Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma.

Ashwin is a smidge of value at Sportsbook's performance market, however. They go 5/6 over 145.5 points (1 point per run, 10 per catch 20 per wicket). His average make-up at home is 149.

India top bowler wins/matches
Bumrah 3 t/16
Shami 3 2t/26
Ashwin 8 2t/24
Jadeja 2/20
Umesh 2/16

England top bowl wins/matches
Woakes 1 5t/28
Anderson 10 6t/41 -
Broad 9 9t/49
Archer 2 t/11
S Curran 2 2t/21
Wood 2/10
Bess 2/9
Leach 0/8

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Are England on a hiding to nothing? This week on Cricket...Only Bettor


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