England won a wonderful first Test of five against India and they will be looking to put themselves in complete control of the series when the two sides meet in the second Test which gets underway at Lord’s on Thursday.
India were competitive at times at Edgbaston but failed to get over the line. They will be eager to level the series here and set themselves up nicely for the final three matches to come later in the tour.
I give England a lot of credit in the first Test. They got their selection right with the move to pick Sam Curran being a revelation and they held their nerve very well in what was actually a tense match throughout. You could pick a lot of holes in the performance of England but after the beginning to 2018 that they have had in red ball cricket the win was invaluable.
I think it is fair to say that as the series goes on they will need to offer much more than they need in the skill department at Edgbaston but their heart and battling spirit, something that has been questioned at times was there for all to see. England will still need to bat much better and improve markedly on their fielding but they lead the series which is vital.
I don’t think India will be completely disappointed with their performance in the first match of the series. Clearly they will not have liked losing but they showed some good signs and there is plenty more to come from them so that is no bad thing. They have put themselves under pressure after dropping the first game though.
I don’t think there is any doubt India exceeded many expectations with the ball and probably in the field, a couple of dropped catches aside, but where they can improve is with the bat. Virat Kohli was superb but he couldn’t find the support which would have taken India to victory. If two of three others can stand up be counted they could yet leave this series on top.
England will be without Ben Stokes for this match. They knew he was going to miss the game when the series began as he is up in court. Dawid Malan has been dropped. Ollie Pope will make his debut as his replacement with Chris Woakes or Moeen Ali being a late choice to replace Stokes.
India are set to make a change and bring another spinner into the side but as they need a bit more batting depth it is likely to be Ravindra Jadeja that comes in rather than Kuldeep Yadav. Umesh Yadav could make way. Shikhar Dhawan could be left out in favour of Cheteshwar Pujara.
There have been 136 previous matches on this ground. England have a mixed record here with 53 wins to 32 defeats and with 49 draws but recently they have been much more level in wins and losses. India have won just two matches in 17 attempts with 11 defeats so this isn’t a happy hunting ground for them.
One saving grace for the tourists could be in the form of the pitch. It looks green from up above but it is expected to be very dry and will bring spinners very much into the game unless the forecasted rain on Thursday really has an impact, which is unlikely.
I’m not going to go too mad with bets for this match. My outright bets could do with India winning so I’m happy to let them ride in terms of interest in them over the course of the match but I will go with a couple.
Ravi Ashwin comfortably brought his performance in at Edgbaston and while his line has increased to 119.5 I don’t think that is high enough to put me off. He totalled 173pts in the first match with 140 of those coming in wickets and if anything I’m expecting even more turn here. England have lost a couple of left handers but I don’t think that is going to be much of an issue. He can bowl out right handers and be it via wickets, runs or catches I’m expecting 120pts from him.
I don’t think England will play both Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali so I’m expecting Chris Woakes to be Ben Stokes’ replacement and he looks a huge price to be the top England batsman if that is the case. He’ll bat at seven at worst which is not a bad place to bat. We’ve just seen Sam Curran top score from down the order in the second innings at Edgbaston and were England made to bat under some cloud cover it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the top order is shot out. Woakes can bat and he’s in good form having clubbed 50 in a T20 game at the weekend and hit a ton for the second XI last month. I’ll pay to see if he can challenge the top score at 35/1.
Back R.Ashwin’s Performance – Over 119.5pts for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365
WON – Back C.Woakes Top England 1st Inns Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 36.00 with Betfair
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