England – -181.82 at 5Dimes
Draw – +425
India – +333.33
WILL Virat Kohli play at Trent Bridge?
That is the question upon which India’s Test tour of England hinges.
The superstar skipper suffered a recurrence of a lower back injury as the tourists imploded at Lord’s to go 2-0 down in the series.
Now Kohli is racing against the clock to prove his fitness in time for the third Test in Nottingham, which starts Saturday, August 18.
Without him, India’s hopes of claiming the Pataudi Trophy are all but dashed.
Kohli is the only one of his countrymen to score more than 40 runs in an innings so far this series.
It speaks volumes of India’s batting woes that Ravichandran Ashwin, better known for his spin bowling, was their top scorer in both digs at Lord’s with 29 and 33.
Karun Nair is the likely replacement if Kohli comes up short, while fast man Umesh Yadav and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja might also come into the equation.
As might be expected following a win of an innings and 159 runs, England’s selection dilemmas are of an entirely different nature.
Ben Stokes is back in the squad after being cleared of affray charges in Bristol, but it remains to be seen whether or not he slots straight into the XI.
That is because the man who replaced him in London, Chris Woakes, peeled off a career-best 137 not out from 177 balls and took four wickets to claim the Man of the Match award.
It could be that both allrounders start and Sam Curran drops out, although the 20-year-old has shown plenty with bat and ball in the first two matches.
The home selectors had planned to rest veteran seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad at some stage in the series, but neither had to work all that hard for their combined 14 wickets last time out.
The other question is whether England will bother selecting a specialist spinner.
Adil Rashid was called out of retirement from first-class cricket for this series, yet he did not bowl a ball – or pick up the bat, for that matter – in the second Test.
Top runscorer betting tips
Jonny Bairstow – If it’s consistency you are looking for, England’s talented wicketkeeper is hard to beat. Bairstow has made runs in every innings this series and leads his side’s batting charts with 191 runs at 63.66. The good folks at 5Dimes are paying +400 for the Yorkshireman to top score in England’s first hit.
Virat Kohli – India’s skipper says he should be fit in time for Saturday’s start. Even if he doesn’t front, who else would you bother backing? Kohli’s series tally of 240 runs is some 150 better than India’s next best (Hardik Pandya), so don’t think twice about taking the +200 odds at 5Dimes.
Best bets for top wicket-taker
James Anderson – Is it possible for a fast bowler to peak at the age of 36? Anderson is bowling as well now as he ever has throughout his decorated international career. After nine wickets at Lord’s, the +190 5Dimes quote for top bowler in the first innings looks like money for jam on a Jimmy-friendly Nottingham deck.
Umesh Yadav – Kohli made a big blue when he swapped one Yadav for another in London. With conditions expected to suit the pacers again at Trent Bridge, a recall for Umesh seems inevitable. Mohammed Shami is the best of the Indian seamers, but Yadav is the quickest and offers better value at +325 with 5Dimes.
Who wins – England or India?
How could anyone get behind India after their capitulation in the second Test? This is a team that arrived in the UK as the number one Test nation, but the would-be conquerors are to return home as the vanquished. The best hope now for Kohli and company is that they don’t succumb to a 5-0 whitewash. With England’s seamers bringing good form to a lively wicket, however, it looks like series over in Notts.
Best bet: England to win (-181.82 at 5Dimes)
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