India v England Fourth T20: Team batting first must adapt or lose

Jos Buttler
Buttler found form

Ed Hawkins says we shouldn't bet before the toss for game four in Ahmedabad on Thursday and points out the tourists as value...

(2pts) Back England batting second 2.001/1

India v England
Thursday 18 March 13.30
TV: live on Sky Sports

Rahul a worry

India have a decision to make about their opening combination after going 2-1 down. There is concern for KL Rahul after a horrendous return of one run across 14 balls in three matches.

Skip Virat Kohli has backed the out-of-sorts opener but with Rohit Sharma now returned, Ishan Kishan moved down to No 3 and Shikhar Dhawan ion the bench, they may look to take Rahul out of the firing line. Perhaps Kishan will open with Rohit and Rahul will drop to No 3.

Kohli rightly pointed out that it was only two games ago that he was out of nick and it is true that the opening position can beat a role of feast or famine. Kohli's masterclass (77 off 46), however, in game three wasn't enough and they need to counter England's pace up front.

Probable XI Rahul, Rohit, Kishan, Kohli, Pant, Iyer, Hardik, Sundar, Thakur, Kumar, Chahal

Wood on India

England are likely to stick with the same XI after Mark Wood returned following a niggle and played a pivotal role in setting up an eight-wicket win. Wood knocked over Rohit and Rahul early to deny India the fast start they crave and then returned at the death to remove Shreyas Iyer.

With the dew assisting the team batting second a target of 157 was easy pickings. Jos Buttler whacked 86 of those and picked up the match gong, which was interesting. Talk about misunderstanding the game. Without Wood's skill and pace, Buttler doesn;'t have the freedom to cut loose. It's a bastman's game, as they say, and wagering bowlers for man of the match is fraught with danger.

The tourists could still improve their balance. With Wood, Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan potent do they really need Sam Curran, particularly as Ben Stokes is a fifth bowler? It might be smarter to pick Moeen Ali and lengthen that batting to give them extra impetus if they have to bat first.

Possible XI Roy, Buttler, Malan, Bairstow, Stokes, Morgan, Sam Curran, Archer, Jordan, Rashid, Wood

Pitch report

The Ahmedabad pitch offers a challenge. Both teams now know that 150-160 feels like a challenging score when they are in the heat of the action batting first. However, the dew completely changes the nature of the game. The surface gets added zip and the fielding side struggle to get grip. This means that the team batting first is going to have to throw caution to the wind and go hell for leather, surely. A minimum score batting first is 170.

We would expect England to be the more likely outfit to recognise that and be capable of pushing on to such a number. You should be able to get decent numbers in-play about backing 170 or more. We note Sportsbook's 6/5 that both teams teams score 160 or more. They also go 7/2 that both score 170 or more. Such a wager all hinges on the team batting first adapting strategy.

Stick with England in chase

India are 1.8910/11 with England 2.1011/10. This is a choice affair in our book with the toss proving crucial. Each of the three matches have been won by the chaser and we expect that bias to continue.

In game three we took on India batting first and the ploy paid dividends. With England odds-against in the market we are happy to use the same strategy again. Even with the toss in their favour at least even money should still be available.

Tops value

Kohli is aiming for three consecutive top-bat wins. Sportsbook have price-boosted him to do so to 11/4 which tells you they are keen to take him on. Buttler is the same price (also price-boosted) after a long-overdue success.
Sportsbook are expecting Dawid Malan to go well. He has been cut to 10/3 from 7/2 for top England bat. They have pushed out Stokes to 8/1, a point shorter than Moeen.


Is Rohit king of the tops? This week on Cricket...Only Bettor

Ed Hawkins P-L

2021: -1.97
2020: +5.91
2019: +37.25pts
2018: +23.53pts
2017: +12pts
2016: +18.1pts
2015: +38pts
2014: +31.5pts
2013: +25pts
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l & COB Best Bets year end

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