India's first Test against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens appears to be one of those matches which punters dread: a mismatch. Where's the fun in betting prohibitively short-priced favourites like India, who have been hovering around the 1.855/6 region on the Exchange and are no better than 8/13 with the Sportsbook?
Well, there isn't much fun. Indeed, it is rather pointless for us to spend 20 minutes of your time explaining why you should back a skinny-priced host. You can probably work out for yourself why India, at home, powerful and in form, are a decent thing against a weak Sri Lanka.
So on occasions like this it is the side markets where the fun is. Or to put it another way, where gamblers will find a decent gamble. Odds and prices more in line with the thrill of having a wager.
And we are going to level with you, folks. For some time we have had this game earmarked for a top-bowler wager. Someone we thought, and hoped, would be a decent poke to outbowl his team-mates in the first dig.
Of course we are not supposed to be quite as 'emotional' as that in this corner of Betting.Betfair. We are supposed to be all about the numbers; a robotic obsession with whether a couple of ticks here or there mean we bet or not. So it's a bit of a slap on the wrist to have pencilled in a wager a few weeks ago.
But we think there is common sense to it all the same. Step forward Bhuv Kumar at 6/1 with Sportsbook to be our man of the moment at Kolkata.
Bhuvi is a super seam and swing bowler who is fast becoming one of India's most important players in limited-overs formats. But in the Test arena he is unheralded, as Indian seam and swing bowlers tend to be. Home pitches, after all, just do not suit their craft.
Eden Gardens, however, could well be his ideal surface. It is reported to be green and grassy. Just as it was when India beat New Zealand there last year on a surface which should have made the visitors feel right at home.
In that match Bhuvi took five for 48 in overcast conditions. The weather forecast, rainy and damp, should assist him again. Last month Bhuvi swung India to victory over Australia at the same ground in similar conditions under foot. He took three for nine.
Now it could well be that available seam and swing means that someone like Mohammad Shami, who is extremely dangerous on such a wicket, comes to the fore as well. And the 5/1 about him might be described as value, too.
That is largely because the threat of India's two spinners, Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja could well be reduced on such a wicket, especially in the first-innings. They tend to do their best work at home when the surface has worn and they get spit and fizz in the second innings.
Indeed, India's selectors know this. Which is why it would be a surprise if both of them played. India reckon they need an extra seamer here, probably Umesh Yadav because he offers something different with outright pace and bounce.
Ashwin and Jadeja take a whopping percentage of the book on this market, though. They are 13/8 and 17/10 respectively. Fair enough in 'ordinary' circumstance. Between them, they cop nearly 77 per cent of the time.
Bhuvi has a hit rate which makes him about a 3.613/5 chance. Shami, however, is about right for the number of times he is top bowler. So, in the end and despite making our mind up early, Bhuvi is a good, sound rational bet. Even the numbers say so.
Back Kumar to be top India first-innings bowler at 6/1 (Sportsbook)