Thrill of chase keeps England interested



India v England
Tuesday 16 March 13:30
TV: live on Sky Sports

Kishan fires India

The depth of the Indian Premier League’s talent pool did for England in game two when Mumbai Indians’ Ishan Kishan took them apart on debut. Kishan, opening the batting, smashed 56 off 32 balls.

In the context of the series and forthcoming World Cup, Kishan gives India much-needed recklessness at the front. One would also hope that Mumbai give him a chance in the opening slot in next month’s IPL, too, opening up a potential bet for top tournament runscorer.

India tweaked their XI to reflect a pitch which does not require three spinners so Axar Patel made way for Suryakumar Yadav. We’re not convinced that Yadav is a number six and India look a little stodgy in that middle-order.

Probable XI Rahul, Kishan, Kohli, Pant, Iyer, Yadav, Hardik, Sundar, Thakur, Kumar, Chahal

Stokes a worry

Do England start to tinker with their XI after India swatted them aside? Probably. They need to address the role of Ben Stokes.

The all-rounder has looked out of sorts in the series so far and the truth is that there are nagging doubts about whether he is, in fact, a T20 player. He doesn’t quite have the variation to be a threat with the ball while he is unsure of his role with the bat – is he a top-order thruster? Is he a finisher?

The latter was the problem last time. England looked set for 180 but Stokes couldn’t propel them at the death. They have options to give him a rest after an arduous tour. Moeen Ali would be a strong addition, giving them a sixth bowling option, or Sam Billings. Liam Livingstone will also get a game at some stage although he is not really a finisher, either. Reece Topley might come in at the expense of the expensive Tom Curran. Mark Wood missed game two with an injury.

Possible XI Roy, Buttler, Malan, Bairstow, Morgan, Moeen, Sam Curran, Archer, Jordan, Rashid, Topley

Pitch report

The pitch is okay. It’s not a road. It’s not a bowler’s paradise. But it is clear that there is a toss bias because of the dew factor. Chasing appears easy with bowlers’ struggling to grip a wet ball and the surface benefitting from extra zip. This leaves the team batting first in a quandary, knowing that 160 feels like par batting first in-play but now being aware that it isn’t.

They are likely to have to hard to push on for 180 or 190, taking risks on a wicket that first up doesn’t help strokemakers. The result could be low scores so don’t be afraid of cheap laying 130 or 140 or more.

England can chase well

The match odds market is following the money. India were 1.608/13 before game one, then out to 1.9010/11 for game two and now they’re back in to 1.705/7. This reaction suggests it has not worked out that the toss is key.

No matter. England give us a significant edge at 2.206/5 and we are happy to bet them in a chase. Don’t be afraid to take bigger prices of Kishan and Virat Kohli to get hold of their attack again. England’s strength is with the bat and they have no fear whatsoever about going after nine an over or more.

Tops value

Kohli top scored for India for only the fourth time in 20 in the second T20. Sportsbook have boosted his price for a repeat to 11/4. That is not big enough to keep us interested. Likewise Jos Buttler’s price has been given a hike – 11/4 from 23/10. It’s just one win the last 10 for Buttler.

Kishan is rated at 10/3 and that could well be the best bet. We’re wary of back-to-back wins but surely he should be shorter given that we know he will open?



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