India v Bangladesh
Thursday February 9 04.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
This Test has been 16 years in the making as India believe it beneath them to have to host Bangladesh. It would be terrific for punters if some of that arrogance seeped into their game, but we doubt it.
This is, after all, a full-strength India. That's a surprise considering the workloads of some of their key men and, indeed, the schedule to come. Australia visit in two weeks.
Virat Kohli, Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja are present. The only debate is over whether Karun Nair or Jayant Yadav bat at No 6. It would be hard on Nair to miss out given that he scored a triple ton in his last Test against England.
The reason for the uncertainty is the return of the fit-again Ajinkya Rahane. He will bat at No 6. The admirably gritty Chet Pujara is at No 3 with KL Rahul and Murali Vijay opening.
Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav are likely to be paired with the new ball with Bhuv Kumar missing out.
Unfortunately there is no Mustafizur Rahman, who is not considered fit enough after suffering a setback from his shoulder problem in the limited-overs matches against New Zealand.
It's a blow because Bangladesh need each of their top players to compete. Another worry is the absence of Imrul Kayes, their second-highest runscorer in the last two years against the top nations.
Tamim Iqbal and Shakib-al-Hasan, the stellar all-rounder, do play, however and they will be supported with the bat by reliable sorts like Monimul Haque, Mahmudullah and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim.
With the ball, spinner Mehedi Hasan, who terrorised England, lines up alongside Taijul Islam, Taskin Ahmed and Kamrul Siam Rabbi. Between them, these three have limited experience. Islam and Kamrul have six and two Tests respectively against the Big Boys while Taskin has played only two Tests.
There have been three Tests played at the Rajiv Gandi Stadium in Hyderabad. The scores were: 350-438-237. In the last five first-class matches in domestic cricket the scores were: 301-335-461-228-465. The pitch is expected to be flat early on before breaking up slightly to assist spinners on the last two days.
Not surprisingly you need a magnifying glass for India's price. They are 1.211/5 with Bangladesh 21.020/1 and the draw 7.87/1.
That's big number about Bangladesh. We can't see an upset happening but they might be capable of bringing that down to single figures if they bat first.
Just don't expect them to perform for five days. Against New Zealand they scored nearly 600 and still lost the game.
It might be smarter to steal some points on the draw price plummeting. If Bangladesh bat big then it will shorten dramatically. The weather forecast is good.
Top India runscorer
Kohli is 3.02/1. Can we get him beat? Well, Rahane is underrated at 7.06/1 considering he has a double ton domestically on this ground and has been averaging 50-plus in the format for the last two years. He is also available at 6/1 with Sportsbook. We also like Pujara - a double centurion here against Australia - at 4.57/2.
Top Bangladesh runscorer
Tamim and Shakib are 7/2 and 4/1 respectively with Sportsbook. They have by far the best averages against the top nations in the last two years. Look out for Sabbir Rahman at 7/1, though. He is emerging as a force and has a good record with the same filter.
At Hyderabad, 58 of the 94 wickets to fall have gone to spin. So when perusing the Sportsbook odds on the bowler markets it might be wise to side with a twirler. Shakib is 5/2 and has 19 wickets in seven against the top sides. Mehedi has 19 in two. But those were against England. He is 11/4.
Trade draw from 7.87/1 to 2.89/5 if Bangladesh bat first