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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Ajinkya Rahane looks to have been underestimated by bookmakers

Captain Kohli could fall short

Ajinkya Rahane could be the man to shine with the bat for India at Edgbaston
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First Test
Sky Sports Cricket & Main Event, 11am Wednesday
India were walloped by England at Edgbaston four years ago but they should take heart from their hosts' poor record in the first match of a Test series.

England lost the first Test against India in 2014, as they did in home series against Pakistan in 2016 and earlier this year. They also suffered heavy opening defeats in the winter series in Australia and New Zealand, where they were bowled out for 58 on day one in Auckland.

Best bets
Neither team's batting line-up is inked in, especially lower down the order where both sides have plenty of all-round options.

However, two men who should start the series for India are Ajinkya Rahane and skipper Virat Kohli and bookmakers reckon there is a gulf between the pair's potential first-innings runs.

Rahane gets a lowly quote of 24.5 from Betfred. He has a top score of 48 in his last six Tests, and didn't quite kick on in innings of 49, 48, 17 and 19 not out in warm-up games against England Lions and Essex.

But the diligent right-hander has to be respected away from home, averaging 52 after 25 Tests outside India, and he was impressive on the 2014 tour of England.

Rahane scored a century at Lord's and a pair of half-centuries at the Rose Bowl and he has a respectable Test record of nine tons and 12 fifties in 45 games.

Fluent enough to open the batting in the IPL, he has a solid defence and sound temperament and could exceed layers' expectations at Edgbaston.

Kohli is a modern master in all three formats but every player has his price and a runs line of 40.5 for the first innings of the series looks a shade high.

If England don't get him early then they could be in serious trouble, as his stats from the start of 2017 reveal. In his last 22 Test innings, Kohli has made three centuries and three double-centuries but he has also been dismissed for 40 or fewer 12 times, as well as scores of 41 and 42.

In ten Test innings on the 2014 tour of England, Kohli's highest score was just 39. The home bowlers can hardly dream of that kind of series-long success against him this time around but they will be determined to keep the pressure on early in his innings. 

A Rahane to score 25 or more first-innings runs
3pts 5-6 Betfred
V Kohli to score 40 or fewer first-innings runs
2pts 10-11 Sky Bet

England have a solid recent record at Edgbaston with eight wins, two draws and just one defeat, to South Africa, in their last 11 Tests.

Their innings victory over India in Birmingham in 2014 was built on Alastair Cook's 294 and the opener also plundered 243 against the West Indies in last year's day-night Test. 

Team news
Adil Rashid and Sam Curran have been given the nod in the bowling attack, while Moeen Ali and Jamie Porter miss out. Keaton Jennings will open the batting.

Lokesh Rahul could replace opener Shikhar Dhawan, who made a pair in the warm-up game at Essex, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha are injured.

Light cloud on day one before four days of sunshine with temperatures reaching 26C.

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Kohli is a modern master in all three formats but every player has his price and his runs line for the first innings of the series looks a shade high
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