England face India on Thursday and cricket betting fans will be in for a treat at Lord’s if it’s anything like the thrilling see-saw First Specsavers Test at Edgbaston. After encouraging resilience from Joe Root’s side, most of the bookmakers have England at evens to take a 2-0 series lead at the Home of Cricket so look elsewhere for value.
India’s recent record does give some encouragement as they won on their last visit to NW8 in 2014 although the tourists lost heavily in 2002 and 2011 either side of a draw in 2007. The draw looks unlikely so if you fancy Kohli to inspire India to victory, back the tourists to win at 9/5 at Mintbet or claim a first innings lead at 13/10 at Genting Bet.
The toss could be vital as batting first and bowling last could be advantageous as a drying pitch cracks under the sun and offers uneven bounce and turn as the match unfolds. Although a glance at the weather forecast suggests that the opening day could be cloudy and conducive to England’s record-breaking new ball pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
The pair are masters of English conditions and will test a talented Indian batting line-up who will have not played much cricket under cloudy skies. Anderson (9/4) and Broad (3/1) are likely to be well backed as leading wicket-taker but Sam Curran is worth a look at 4/1 after taking five wickets in only his second Test match.
Spinners can thrive if they use the famous slope to their advantage as well as making the most of any deterioration in the pitch. Veteran New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel picked up a five-wicket haul for Warwickshire against Middlesex at the ground last month so expect Ravi Ashwin’s off breaks to cause England’s leftie-heavy line-up some headaches throughout the match.
Four of Patel’s five victims were southpaws so expect Ashwin to do some damage with Sam Curran’s footholes to aim at later in the match. Eight of England’s side bat left-handed so the Chennai-born bowler could cause havoc as he targets a middle and leg stump line to grip the ball to bowl the batsman or entice the outside edge.
With Shami, Sharma and Yadav yet to make the most of the new Duke ball despite swing-friendly conditions in the Midlands, Ashwin is key to the number one Test team’s chances of success particularly with his record of removing Alistair Cook early. Ashwin is 5/2 with Ladbrokes to be India’s top wicket-taker in the first innings and 6/1 to take five or more wickets in the first innings.
Adil Rashid is rated 7/2 to be the leading English wicket-taker with Moeen Ali (5/1) or skipper Joe Root (20/1) a good each-way flutter. Opener Shikhar Dhawan was the only left-hander in India’s line-up at Edgbaston so in theory the attacking leg-spin of Adil Rashid should carry more of a wicket threat than the off-breaks of Moeen and Root.
The returning Moeen seems to have rediscovered his mojo with the ball and took eight wickets for Worcestershire in a one-off County Championship match last month and has picked up six wickets in four county T20s this season. For England, the leg-spin of Adil Rashid claimed the prized scalp of in-form India skipper Virat Kohli on day two but the Yorkshireman was used sparingly as the seamers struck regularly.
With Ben Stokes absent this week, expect to see more overs of spin unless England opt to blood Essex seamer Jamie Porter, who has taken 158 County Championship wickets since the start of the 2016 season – more than any other bowler. The former recruitment consultant nearly dropped out of the game before becoming an integral part of the Essex sides that won Division Two and Division One in successive years.
Jonny Bairstow looks good value for England’s top run-scorer, especially if the hosts bat first as he won’t be fatigued from a day in the field. The prolific gloveman is 4/1 at Karamba. If England do wobble, back all-rounders Moeen Ali 14/1 or Sam Curran at 25/1 with Ladbrokes to be top run-scorer in leading a first innings fightback.
Man of the match is a tricky one to predict but generally all-rounders who can contribute in multiple disciplines can pay dividends. Joe Root at 7/1 or Moeen Ali at 10/1 are worth a look and Sam Curran is priced at a tempting 20/1 with top cricket betting sites to repeat the feat after picking up the prize last week.
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