India: where the temperature is hotter than the curries and the pitches are flatter than chapatis. It’s a famously demanding place to tour and this is reflected in Sporting Index’s series supremacy market; for the four match encounter they go India over England 8-11 (awarding 10 pts to the series winner plus 5 pts per Test won by).
Kevin Pietersen (remember him?) led England to a one-nil defeat in December 2008’s two match series in which India famously chased down 387 to win the first Test in Chennai. Before KP, Andrew Flintoff managed a 1-1 draw in 2006 – a series notable for the test debuts of Monty Panesar and England’s skipper for this trip, Alastair Cook (who made a ton on debut in the second innings at Nagpur).
As far as this series goes, England’s main concern must be in their ability to take 20 wickets. The necessary stoicism and application required to succeed with the bat on the subcontinent appears to be present, but, with Finn likely to miss the first Test, injury doubts hovering over Stuart Broad and England’s premier spinner Graeme Swann, off the back of an underwhelming summer, having rushed home to attend a sick child, the bowling could well be found wanting. As such, India would appear to be good value to buy at 11 on the supremacy market.
Looking at the player runs markets, there are significant differences of opinion between Sporting Index and Spreadex. Whilst SpIn make Gambhir 305-325 for the series, Spreadex are a full 15 points lower at 290-310; you can get Cook for 300-320 on Spreadex or 315-335 on SpIn. It goes without saying to check the rival markets to select the spread that is most favourable for your buy or sell.
I like the look of getting long on Samit Patel’s runs at 200 (Spreadex). The Nottinghamshire all-rounder has shown decent form in the warm-up matches and the conditions ought to suit his game better than some other England batsmen. The prodigal KP is a still a tempting buy at 320 (Spreadex) as one feels a truly massive innings is never far away. However, with Cook now required to deal with the added responsibilities of the captaincy, I might look to oppose the new England skipper at 315 (Sporting Index).
Not surprisingly, given England’s much-hyped travails against the turning ball, the Indian spin twins Ashwin (265-280) and Ojha (220-235) are top of the shops on SpIn’s (pun half intended) bowling index (10 pts per wicket + 25 pt bonus for a five-for). Assuming England bat twice in each match, Aswhin would need to take four-or-so wickets per innings to beat his spread. Even with the carrot of the 5-wicket haul bonus, I feel this is a sell – just don’t let me watch the DVD of England in Pakistan last year before Thursday.