Draw best for Mumbai visitors


8th December 2016

Alastair Cook will have happy memories of Mumbai having won here in the last two trips – the memorable 2012 trip and the one before in 2006. England are in dire need of some inspiration as they try to get back into a series that they can’t win but can definitely level. India on the other hand will have very little to ponder as they have the cushion of a 2-0 lead and hold all the aces as we get set for the Fourth Test at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai from Thursday, December 8.

Both teams have had injury issues to grapple that only helped increase the interest in the team composition. England’s latest sensation Haseeb Hameed has impressed everyone with his attitude and skill but is now out of the series. So is the case with Zafar Ansari. Not that India had it easy or got away with injuries. Their opening combination never looked settled with every player choosing to get injured after every game.

For all the noise around Indian team’s scores, most of their runs have come Virat Kohli and Cheteswar Pujara. The lack of runs from Murali Vijay – barring his century at Rajkot – and Ajinkya Rahane have not gone unnoticed. Luckily for Kohli, India’s lower order stepped up brilliantly, led by Ravichandran Ashwin.

The sting in the tail makes them qualified to be taken seriously although England are guilty of not putting enough pressure. With the ball, the troika of spinners have been relentless with their control and guile. Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav have outshined their England counterparts with both traditional and reverse swing.

England will have a decision to take on who will replace Hameed. Ben Duckett has seen his stock and confidence fall so rapidly that it would surprise even him if he gets a recall. There could be a debut for Keaton Jennings as well as Liam Dawson as the pitch is supposed to take slow turn. Cook loves to go with a three plus three attack unless there is an overnight growth of grass in Wankhede!

Runs are coming at a premium for England and will once again look at Cook, Joe Root and Ben Stokes to lead with the bat. Stuart Broad is striving hard to get fit for this match and could be an important addition for the attack. Surprisingly, the England team weren’t consistent with their aggressive bowling – something which they may resort to, in Mumbai.

Their dominance is so total that India are overwhelming favorites to win at Mumbai too – odds of 1.50. The best England can be expected to do is to draw the game – not bad a punt at odds of 5.75, especially if England can bat long in the first innings.

Jonny Bairstow is one of the top run getters this season and backing him to be England’s top batsman – odds of 7.00 isn’t too risky a punt. With the ball it could once again be Ashwin for India (2.75) and Stokes for England (odds of 6.50 with Ladbrokes).

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