After an exciting and unpredictable opening day at The Gabba, Paul Krishnamurty says England are well positioned and recommends laying the Aussies...
"England retain multiple routes to either win or save this match. Either bat resiliently on a pitch that doesn't seem to hold the expected perils or bowl well in conditions that may well turn out to be more akin to what they're used to at home than the Australian norm."
Latest score: England 196-4
Match Odds: Australia [2.1], England [3.5], Draw [4.1]
Momentum swung back and forth on an enthralling opening day to this Ashes series - at the end of which it remains unclear who is in front. So far as the odds are concerned, Australia have fallen back from a pre-toss [1.75] but all three results are very much still in the mix.
Given generally low expectations, England should be happy. Although Joe Root won the toss, his decision to bat first felt risky with rain in the air and the visitors must have feared the worst when Alastair Cook was dismissed with just two runs on the board. However Ashes debutants Mark Stoneman and James Vince rallied magnificently to set up a promising platform, before a late Aussie rally pegged them back.
Significantly, this pitch was nothing like as fiery as we've come to expect at The Gabba. As the dismal run-rate implies, conditions were slow and the bowlers toiled somewhat until Pat Cummins begun to get some reverse swing with the older ball. Without his excellent afternoon spell and a superb run out of Vince by wily spinner Nathan Lyon, England would be firmly in charge.
Even now, it is hard to say precisely what would constitute a good score. The pitch is expected to quicken up today so England's bowlers may well get the better conditions. If they can double their current score to nearly 400, I'd make them favourites. On recent test evidence, 400 remains well within their compass with Moeen Ali at the crease and Jonny Bairstow yet to bat. As yesterday, surviving the new ball during the first session will be the key.
During my overnight commentary on Twitter, I recommended a few bets on England's 1st Innings Runs, which yielded a nice risk-free position. 350 would secure a sizeable profit to kickstart the series.
My two opening bets - backed England 350+ at 2.4, 400+ at 3.5. It will only need a moderate start for the par line to rise significantly.— Betfair Exchange (@BetfairExchange) November 23, 2017
Regarding the outright market, my idea of the best trade right now is laying Australia at [2.1]. With only four wickets lost on the first day - by a side whose top order is regularly outscored by a deep middle order - and rain around, a result is far from certain. The home line-up is far from bombproof and I doubt they'll have arrived at a significantly better position by the end of their first innings.
England retain multiple routes to either win or save this match. Either bat resiliently on a pitch that doesn't seem to hold the expected perils or bowl well in conditions that may well turn out to be more akin to what they're used to at home than the Australian norm. Unless they run through England cheaply tomorrow morning, this test is not going to be the widely predicted easy Aussie victory.