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Antony Heath 28th Jul 2011 - 15:11

England to Bridge gap to Number 1

England head to the second Test at Trent Bridge in high spirits after dominating the vast majority of play at Lord's and leaving with a series lead after a convincing 196 run victory. History has shown us however that India are slow starters on overseas tours and will not want to relinquish their spot at the top of the ICC rankings.

On their last two tours of these shores the Indian's have struggled at Lord's as they lost in 2002 while rain saved them and they emerged with a draw in 2007. On both occasions the series moved to Trent Bridge resulting in an improved performance especially in 2007 when they claimed a big victory and went 1-0 in the 3 game Test series. In short don't rule the Indians out of the series just yet!

This second Test is all about injuries, India have Zaheer Khan out (He was a thorn in England's side at Trent Bridge in 2007 with his swing bowling) and have doubts over opener Gautam Gambhir after his elbow injury sustained during Englands second innings at Lord's. The hosts are keeping a close eye on Chris Tremlett and his hamstring injury.

On the England front the batting line up is settled and they've been performing like a well oiled machine in recent Test's. Even at Lord's where the top order struggled Matt Prior and Stuart Broad came in and produced a magnificent partnership to first get England out of trouble and then secondly to take the game away from India. With India's bowling looking depleted look for England's top order to shine again.

England's bowling order was fantastic at Lord's and there's every reason to believe it will continue into the second Test. Chris Tremlett will be a massive loss for England if he is ruled out as his extra bounce troubled the Indian order massively, however if he does miss out Tim Bresnan will be ready to slot back into the side on a pitch that will suit his bowling. James Anderson has taken 28 wickets at 15.89 in four Tests here and is unsurprisingly get well backed to be top England bowler so get on while the 2/1 is still around!

India needs to be better with both bat and ball at Trent Bridge after their poor showing at Lord's. Injuries in both departments will make that a more difficult task than it is. Their success in 2007 was built on good opening partnerships with the bat however with Gambhir struggling to be fit and Sehwag not back until at least the third Test the order is in need of a shuffle. The opening duties will be down to rookie Mukund and another on a pitch that the England bowlers will be relishing to get on.

The bowling attack has suffered a huge blow as Zaheer Khan is definitely out due to his hamstring picked up at Lord's. Munaf Patel or Sreesanth will be taking his place and England will be breathing a sigh of relief they don't have to face Khan in his favoured conditions. Apart from 1 good spell from Sharma in the second innings at Lord's the attack doesn't anything to be feared and it could be a long match for the bowlers.

With all the disruption on the Indian side I can see England producing another top quality all round display and going 2-0 up in the series. They have a bowling attack that looks threatening and able to take 20 wickets in a match, without Zaheer India don't. The betting looks ominous as England just keep getting shorter and currently can be taken at Even Money which is still great value.

My Top bets for the match would be:

England @ Evs: They looked a much better team than India's collection of individuals during the first Test, India will improve on that performance - but not enough to win
James Anderson - Top England bowler @ 2/1: This has been shortening up but still worth a bet at the 2/1. The pitch will suit his style and India look rattled. A first innings five-fer is a tempting 6/1 or man of the match 10/1
Kevin Pietersen - To score a century @ 7/2 Match Winner: After his perfectly played double ton at Lord's this is huge value and covers both innings!
Sachin Tendulkar - Top India batsman @ 7/2: The little master made 91 here in 2007 and is always a quality batsman, he's also a massive 7/2 to score his century of centuries at our Match Winner price which covers either innings!
Ishant Sharma @ 8/11 - Bowler match bet v Harbhajan Singh. In recent years pace bowlers have thrived in the Trent Bridge conditions. Harbhajan looked poor at Lord's with match figures of 1-218.


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