India v England
Sunday 28 March, 08:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
India's spin woe
If India were surprised with the ease with which England chased in game two, they shouldn't have been. The warning signs were there in the first match when the tourists took to their bowling attack with gusto.
It is not India's best line-up with the ball. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami, both starters, are not available, nor is Ravi Jadeja. They are also unsure of their best spin combination. Kuldeep Yadav's golden period is a distant memory and Yuz Chahal has been dropped. No wonder that Ravi Ashwin's ODI stock is rising again.
Kuldeep is wicketless and costing eight runs an over. Combine that with Krunal Pandya going at the same rate and they have significant issues. The resolution may be to return Chahal to the team and start again with their spin combination another time. Natarajan may also be worthy of a spot, his left-arm pace offering variation.
Possible XI Rohit, Dhawan, Kohli, Rahul, Pant, Hardik, Krunal, Thakur, Kumar, Chahal, Natarajan
Game two was vintage No 1-in-the-world England. Went round the park with the ball, then chased a monster total with ease. Their brand of controlled recklessness remains unrivalled in the chase.
Jonny Bairstow, who showed in the T20s that he was seeing the white ball as his opportunity for redemption again, has looked majestic and his 11th ODI century puts him on course to usurp Joe Root (16) as England's best ton-maker in ODI. Bairstow won the match gong (much to our 9/1 delight) but we were surprised Ben Stokes didn't get it for an extraordinary 99 off 52.
Stokes struck ten sixes and the Twenty20ifciation of ODI batting continues apace. With Eoin Morgan out of the series and Sam Billings injured, Stokes's timing was perfect in every regard.
Possible XI Roy, Bairstow, Stokes, Malan, Buttler, Livingstone, Moeen, S Curran, T Curran, Rashid, Topley.
The Pune pitch is reliably good for batsmen. More runs are expected in line with the sequence of first-innings scores which read: 336-317-304-350-230-283. That is an average of 303 but par is unlikely to be enough. More than 330 could well be the minimum required with both outfits far stronger with bat than ball.
Of course, the markets are now aware of this. Sportsbook go 4/6 both teams to score 280 from even money for game two. There is still a spot of value, though, on both teams to score 300. That has been price-boosted to 15/8. More than 290 for both is at 11/10.
In both white-ball series this tour, these two have taken it to a decider. They are well-matched.
What split them in T20 was, possibly, a switch in strategy by India. The hosts realised on the Ahmedabad pitch that they needed to be more aggressive batting first to reduce the importance of the dew factor. So they went very hard. A similar approach may be required batting first here.
Instead of reckoning in-play that 320-330 might be more than enough, India and England may now realise that they must reach for the stars and look to go late into the 300s.
What does this mean betting wise? Well, we're likely to see the bat first team short jollies at the break. So if England were to bat first we can see a trade from 2.206/5 to 1.501/2 busting 350. A more moderate score (320-330) may well mean we're on India at slight odds-against. Indeed, we would expect either team which chases to be bang in the game up to the 340 region.
KL Rahul has roared back to form and his brilliant century in game two means the 7/2 for top India bat with Sportsbook may appeal. We don't follow for back-to-back wins, however. Rohit Sharma is in danger of drawing a rare blank in a series and goes off at 11/4. Virat Kohli is 13/5.
Bairstow is favourite at 12/5 with Stokes surprisingly big at 9/2. Dawid Malan is the same price. Jos Buttler, who has been quiet, is 5/1.
India v England ODI series analysis on Cricket...Only Bettor