England v India - 3rd Test Preview
England v India - 3rd Test Preview - Captain Cook set to enter the last chance saloon
By John Hinds - In-Play Cricket Trader
They say a year is a long time in a professional sportsman's career, and this notion is ringing truer than ever right now for Alastair Cook. This time last year England had just gone 2-0 up in the home Ashes series against Australia after a brutal 347 run victory inside four days. Everything looked rosy in English Cricket's garden and a 3-0 series win ensued, with much believed hype of another whitewash in the Australian Ashes series that started only 3 months later.
Things couldn't have turned out any differently, since sealing the home Ashes series on the 12th August 2013, England have gone 10 Test matches without a win, the worst losing streak since 1993. Alastair Cook is fast becoming a man running out of ideas, desperately short of form with the bat, tactically naïve in the field and hanging on to the England captaincy by his fingertips. The laborious 5 match in 6 week toil against a rejuvenated India team couldn't have come at a worse time.
The 3rd Test starts just 6 days after the Lords Test, barely giving England any time to reflect and move on from the morale shattering but all too common mid-order collapse that gave India their first away Test victory in 15 attempts, a losing streak that had lasted 1124 days. This turning of the tables has been acknowledged, with the starting prices for Sunday's Test in Southampton much more closely knit than the previous two Tests. England are marginal favourites at 13/8, the draw 7/4 and India 15/8. The 2nd Test at Lords couldn't have been any different to the 1st Test at Trent Bridge. Lords was an intriguing affair where all 3 selections spent time as the favourite and large volumes of bets were taken across the board. The starting prices for Sundays encounter at the Ageas Bowl suggests another slow burning match that could go deep into day 5 once again.
This is only the second time the Ageas Bowl has hosted a Test match, but it tends to be a batsman's ground, with lots of runs available, and the continuous dry weather will help to produce a fast, hard pitch that an in-form batsman would really like to sink their teeth into. There is a real contrast between the respective bowling attacks at the moment, for India Bhuvneshwar Kumar is in the form of his fledgling career with 3 fifty plus knocks and two 5-wicket hauls in the two Tests and Ishant Sharma, a man full of confidence and re-paying the trust instilled into him from captain MS Dhoni. England seem to be over-relying on the jaded and frustrated Stuart Broad and James Anderson, with Anderson (like Matt Prior already this week) looking like a man in desperate need of time away from the game. With the impending disciplinary hearing over the spat with Ravindra Jadeja set to take place on August 1st, it looks time away from the game may be out of his hands.
The 3rd Test starts on Sunday 27th July at 11am. William Hill will as always be offering a wide selection of In-Play markets throughout the match, as well as a variety of Twitter specials, that can be found on our Twitter page;