Having won the Test series in India before Christmas and shared the honours in a couple of T20 games against the world champions, hopes would have been high that England would inflict further misery on MS Dhoni and his team-mates in the upcoming five-match one-day series. However, most of that hope disappeared in less than 80 chilly overs in frosty Delhi in England’s first and well-named warm-up match.
Without captain Alistair Cook, who has arrived back on the sub-continent with a heavy cold, England’s middle order fell apart against an ordinary-looking India A attack and were bowled out for only 175, more than 50 runs short of a modest target. Coupled with India avoiding a whitewash in the final match of their three-game series with Pakistan, England’s odds for an overall victory in the series with India have now lengthened to a best 13/8 with William Hill while their hosts are a general 4/7.
You’d have to side with the home side as they’ll be desperate to end what’s been a pretty miserable winter so far. Of course, there is no longer a Tendulkar for England to worry about but the India team is still littered with one-day specialists and match-winners. Dhoni himself, along with Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Ashwin are all capable of taking a game away from the opposition and it’s worth bearing in mind that this young England team are still very much a work in progress in limited-overs. You would expect Kevin Pietersen to play at least one significant innings, however, and Cook’s return to fitness will strengthen the top order but this tour will be a learning curve for new limited-overs coach Ashley Giles and the likes of Chris Woakes and Danny Briggs, while it’s probably wise not to expect too much too soon from Joe Root.
India to win the series 3-2 on the correct score is 9/5 with bet365, Blue Square and 888sport but 4-1 makes equal appeal at 15/4 with bet365. Captain Cook may well be a decent bet at Betfred and BetVictor‘s 11/4 to England’s leading run-maker as he’ll probably be the one charged with anchoring the innings and allowing the likes of Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan to score quickly around him.