- India are a formidable proposition at home and are fresh from a 3-0 demolition of New Zealand. The margin of victory in all three matches was greater than 100 runs and the result lifted India back to the top of the Test rankings. Anil Kumble’s men also outclassed the West Indies in the Caribbean earlier in 2016, triumphing 2-0.
- England had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Bangladesh last month, after losing to the Tigers for the first time in their history in the second Test. Trevor Bayliss’ team had previously drawn 2-2 with Pakistan and beaten Sri Lanka 2-0 during their home summer.
- England came out on top the last time the two sides met in India four years ago, coming from behind to win 2-1 in a four-match series.
England are a shadow of the side they were in 2012 in terms of looking ready to compete in Indian conditions, with spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar and star batsman Kevin Pietersen no longer around. The current team lacks a world-class spinner and still has a far from settled batting order, so it is no surprise that the bookies and a number of former players are tipping England to fall a long way short. Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan has made public his fears that it could be 5-0 to India.
India look as though they will be very hard to stop, even though they will be without injured batters KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma for the start of the series. Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and talismanic captain Virat Kohli are all still present and correct and will fancy posting some huge totals, but it is the bowling that will truly worry England and spinning surfaces can be expected if the Indian groundsmen witnessed what happened in Bangladesh. Off-spinner Ravi Ashwin is the main threat, but his left-arm accomplice Ravi Jadeja has better odds at 4/1 to be India’s leading wicket-taker and could be worth a punt.
England may be up against it, but the horror show in Bangladesh will at least have helped them to get acclimatised and there is too much talent within Trevor Bayliss’ ranks to write them off completely, especially with James Anderson rejoining the squad following injury. Exploring the markets for individual performances is probably a better option than trying to bet on the correct series score, and Joe Root is an understandable favourite to be England’s top run-scorer at 9/4. He is a marvellous player of spin and has a hunger to build long innings once he gets set.
The market for the best England bowler could be even more profitable, though. India’s batsmen are unlikely to lose any sleep at all over slow bowlers like Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, but Ben Stokes’ mastery of reverse swing and fierce competitive instincts make him stand out as a really tempting wager at 6/1 following his heroics in Bangladesh.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Ben Stokes to be top England bowler - 6/1
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.