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England v India Test Series

July 3rd, 2014

England's cricketers are under something of a cloud as they prepare for their five-Test series against India, with questions surrounding the form and captaincy of Alastair Cook as his side looks to bring an end to an eight-match run without a win.

Beaten 5-0 in the Ashes by Australia, England then began their summer with a 1-0 series defeat to Sri Lanka, in which Cook failed with the bat and saw his frontline bowlers struggle. Deprived of a top-class spinner by the retirement of Graeme Swann and desperately short on confidence, the hosts are at a low ebb ahead of the first match at Trent Bridge on Wednesday

Nevertheless, England remain the bookmakers' favourites in the series betting at around even money. India's uninspiring performances in their warm-up matches, coupled with their 4-0 defeat on their last visit three years ago, mean they are the outsiders at best odds of 15/8 with Paddy Power.

England can be backed at best odds of 11/10 with Betfred and Coral, while Bet365 and Sky Bet both go 9/2 that the series will be drawn. With the two sides looking evenly matched, that price looks tempting.

Cook's men have, of course, won successive series against India, having claimed an historic 2-1 victory in the sub-continent in the winter of 2012/13. They went on to beat Australia on home soil last summer, before the wheels came off and the fall-out continues in the form of sniping from the ousted Kevin Pietersen and his associates. Results and performances hardly back up the claim that it’s now a happier dressing room.

It has been an uncomfortable time for the team and their skipper, with the players who were around for an extended period of success under Cook finding the going much tougher than those who have been introduced over the last six months or so.

Gary Ballance, who made an unbeaten century at Lord's against Sri Lanka, and Sam Robson who hit three figures at Headingley, have both shown the kind of form that has eluded Cook, while Joe Root made his thrilling double-hundred at Lord’s.

It all makes the betting for top England batsman look a little lopsided, with Cook and Ian Bell leading the market at between 11/4 and 7/2 and creating a suggestion of value elsewhere. Ballance and Root can be backed at 11/2 with Bet365 (and are as short as 4/1 in places), while Robson is the same price with Stan James. Root, touted as a future captain, can push on from that 200 and looks the best selection.

With nine wickets at Leeds, Liam Plunkett outshone both Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad and is 5/1 with Ladbrokes and William Hill to be England's Top Bowler in this series. Ben Stokes, back in the squad after a self-inflicted hand injury, is 8/1 with BetVictor and he comes in on the back of some impressive displays in county cricket.

In Ishant Sharma, India also have a bowler in form, after he took 15 wickets across two matches in the 1-0 series defeat to New Zealand in February. Paddy Power go 5/1 that Sharma will be the Top Indian Bowler, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar the market leader at best odds of 7/2 with Ladbrokes.

Virat Kohli heads the betting for top Indian batsman, but Cheteshwar Pujara looked in good nick in the warm-up game against Derbyshire to continue his solid form. Pujara has scored at least 100 runs in five of his last nine Tests and is a 4/1 chance with Bet365.

In the Series Correct Score betting the shortest price is for a 2-2 draw, which is priced generally at 6/1. England are a 40/1 shot to win the series 5-0 with Ladbrokes, who offer 25/1 (as short as 14/1 elsewhere) on them repeating their 4-0 success of three years ago.

India are 9/1 with BetVictor, Coral and William Hill to win 2-1, which compares favourably to the 13/2 with Paddy Power. But optimistic Indian fans should head to Paddy Power who offer stand-out odds of 90/1 on the visitors whitewashing England.

Draw Series Winner 9/2 Bet365 & Sky Bet
Joe Root Top England Batsman 11/2 Bet365
Ishant Sharma Top Indian Bowler 5/1 Paddy Power
Cheteshwar Pujara Top Indian Batsman 4/1 Bet365

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