Yorkshiremen could offer resistance
Sky Sports 2, 4am
Rajkot, the venue for tomorrow’s series opener, has never staged a Test match but England did beat India in an ODI at the ground in 2013.
Joe Root made his one-day debut in that match although an unbroken stand of 70 between Craig Kieswetter and Samit Patel meant he wasn’t required with the bat.
Root could take centre stage on his return to India and 5-1 outsiders England will be looking to their star man to set the tone in his first innings of the series.
The Yorkshireman was rested for the one-day series in Bangladesh but batted well in the first innings of both Test matches. His knocks of 40 and 56 were studded with authoritative strokes against the spinners and he has scored 611 runs in just six Tests against India.
Only one of those matches was on the subcontinent – he scored 73 and 20 not out on his Test debut in Nagpur in 2012 – but he is worth backing to stamp his class on the India bowlers at the earliest opportunity.
Virat Kohli is a clear favourite to top-score for India. The skipper made a double-century in his last month’s final Test against New Zealand and scored 77 against South Africa in last year’s ODI in Rajkot.
Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja dominate the man-of-the-match betting and Jadeja’s threat shouldn’t be underrated.
The left-armer is an excellent foil to Ashwin, building up pressure with his accuracy and control and luring impatient batsmen into rash shots.
Ladbrokes’ 4-7 that Jadeja takes at least two wickets in the first innings is worth a chunky bet. He has achieved it in 11 of his 12 home Test matches and his figures against South Africa and New Zealand in his last two home series were 3-55, 4-50, 4-33, 5-30, 5-73, 1-40 and 2-80.
England’s batting depth is crucial to their chances of getting a foothold in the series and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow’s runs line of 21.5 with Coral looks too low.
Bairstow has passed that mark in 13 of his last 15 Test first innings and his busy approach to batting should prevent him getting bogged down against the spinners.
J Root top England first-innings runscorer
2pts 3-1 Betfair
R Jadeja to take two or more first-innings wickets
4pts 4-7 Ladbrokes
J Bairstow to score 22 or more first-innings runs
3pts 17-20 Coral