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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Conditions are perfect for an Indian summer

Inconsistent England could fall short

Skipper Virat Kohli can lead his side to victory
1 of 1

Five-Test series
Starts 11am Wednesday
India were beaten 3-1 in their last Test series in England but the ICC's top-ranked Test team should find conditions more to their liking this time around.

The teams have already played a couple of compelling white-ball series with India winning the Twenty20 contest 2-1 and England claiming the ODI honours by the same scoreline.

A similarly competitive Test series looks likely given England's inconsistency in five-day cricket and India's threat on dry, spin-friendly pitches.

A schedule of five Tests in six weeks isn't quite as gruelling as the Tour de France but, in cricketing terms, it's about as tough as it gets.

With the teams facing a potential 25 days of cricket in the next 41 days, punters betting on the series must look beyond the first 11s.

England will be without Ben Stokes for the second Test at Lord's, which clashes with his trial for affray at Bristol Crown Court, while James Anderson and Stuart Broad are highly unlikely to play all five Tests.

Both senior bowlers have had injuries this summer, as has third-choice seamer Chris Woakes, who is not fit enough to feature in the first Test.

India have their own bowling issues with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, their leading wicket-taker in the 2014 series, ruled out of the first three matches and Jasprit Bumrah missing the opener.

But Kohli has more pace options than his predecessors as India skipper with Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami jostling for two spots in the line-up, as well as an array of spin talent.

Betway offer 11-2 that the covers are not brought on for rain during the entire series – not the sort of price you'd usually see in an English summer – and Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and mystery spinner Kuldeep Yadav could make hay while the sun shines.

English batsmen rarely face top-quality spin on dry surfaces while their Indian counterparts tend to be exposed by lateral movement on green-tinged pitches so the summer drought must have eroded some of England's home advantage.

And, despite the undoubted talent in the home squad, the next bad session is never far away for Joe Root's side.

Their 1-1 draw with Pakistan in May and June means they have lost at least one Test in 16 of their last 17 series while India have developed a ruthless streak under Kohli's demanding leadership.

Since their 2014 defeat in England they have won ten and drawn one of their 13 Test series, thumping England 4-0 at home in 2016 and losing only narrowly in Australia and South Africa.

Root and Kohli are favourites to be their team's top runscorers, as they were in India last time out, but former captain Alastair Cook could be a key man for the home side.

The opener averages 50 against India, making a career-best 294 at Edgbaston in the 2014 series, and should be fresher than most of his teammates after a midsummer break.

He looked in good nick against Pakistan, top-scoring with 70 in a total of 184 at Lord's, and returned with a virtually chanceless 180 for England Lions against India A at Worcester.

If the sunshine continues then India's opening bowlers may struggle to find much movement and Cook is a hard man to dislodge once he gets through the new ball.

India to win series
3pts 2-1 general
A Cook top England series runscorer
1pt 7-2 general

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India's opening bowlers may struggle to find much movement and Cook is a hard man to dislodge once he gets through the new ball
E.W. Terms
Sky bet