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Michael Vaughan: Vengeful India the value bet at 1.5

Samit Patel's ability to play spin could come in handy in India

"I can't see anything other than a series win for India. They just don't lose at home do they? They are confident and comfortable on home soil and Dhoni and Fletcher will have them fired up after last year's 4-0 defeat."

An India tour is always one of the toughest on the Test circuit and Michael Vaughan can't see anything other than a home victory as MS Dhoni's men take on England seeking revenge for last summer's 4-0 thrashing. Read on for the Ambassador's thoughts and bets on the series - including a cheeky 18.5 wager

Line-up

The big question going in to the First Test is who will open for England. We'll get a better idea of the England line-up from the team in tomorrow's final warm-up game, with Nick Compton and Joe Root in contention to partner Alastair Cook, but it's Ian Bell for me.
Bell is going to miss the Second Test to go home for the birth of his child, and it will be easier to integrate Compton into the team then.

Jonny Bairstow has to play, so I'd have him in at five, with Samit Patel in at six. He's a good player of spin and provides another bowling option, so makes sense to have him in there.

There are injury concerns over Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, but I'd have Graham Onions in there regardless. He's the best seam option for Indian conditions.

Mystery

Graeme Swann has stated that India's slow-bowling attack doesn't possesses the mystery to exploit England's recent struggles with spin on the subcontinent and he's right.

There's no excuse for playing spin badly on this tour. India don't have a mystery bowler - the England players will encounter spinners like Ashwin and Ohja day in and day out.

England have prepared well, conditioning in Dubai and playing three warm-up games, so they shouldn't go into the Tests cold. The key in India is to occupy the crease - get the first 20 or 30 minutes out of the way with good defence. You can't afford to lose wickets in clusters.

Conditions

India is the best tour to go on for a player. The supporters are fanatical about cricket and everyone knows who you are and wants to speak to you. It's an amazing experience.

The pitches will, of course, suit the home team taking spin and a bit of reverse swing. The key to any Test is the first day - if England lose it they're on the backfoot for the rest of the game.

If you can get into the fourth or fifth day with a positive result still possible, that home support can affect India a little bit, adding to the pressure.

For England to have any chance of success, Swann will have to have a remarkable series with the ball and the batsman will need to put 450s on the board.

Series Winner 

I can't see anything other than a series win for India. They just don't lose at home do they? They are confident and comfortable on home soil and Dhoni and Fletcher will have them fired up after last year's 4-0 defeat.  Their price of1.51/2 might seem short but it still represents value. Get on.

I don't see a clean sweep though - England should be able to hold on for a couple of draws, so my Series Score bet is 2-0 if you can get anything over 6.05/1.

Top Series Batsmen

England: Kevin Pietersen will get a big score somewhere along the way, but it's got to be Mr Consistent, Jonathan Trott. He will eke out the runs and occupy the crease so has to be the bet, at 4.57/2

But I wouldn't argue against a small wager on Samit Patel, at a chunky looking 18.5n/a. He's a good player of spin and will bat twice in each Test, if selected, so a good outside chance.

India: It's got to be Virat Kohli at 4.216/5; he's the best player in the team, a class batsman.

Top Series Wicket Taker 

England: Graeme Swann is the obvious favourite here - trading at around 2.89/5 - but I'm backing Jimmy Anderson, at 4.57/2. He can get the ball reversing and will be able to take advantage of any early morning dew. Swann might not get as many wickets as people think - the Indians play off spin well and aren't packed with left handers.

India: Only one choice here and that's Ravi Ashwin, at 2.47/5. The odds are fairly short but he will bowl so many overs that it makes him a banker.

Keep Dancing...

I'll be back next week with my preview of the First Test. Before then I've got another weekend in Strictly to try and survive, but I'm hopeful. I think I've got a good 'story' - not a great start, but improving with plenty of effort - and the public seem to like that. It's probably the hardest thing I've ever done, but I'm enjoying every minute.

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07 November 2012

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