India's winter of discontent to continue
India v England - ODI Series
1st ODI - 06:30 live on Sky Sports 1
After their winter back home the England squad makes a return to the subcontinent, to finish off what has already been a successful tour, with a five game ODI series. England were magnificent in the tests, and the t20s with a vastly inexperienced squad, and with the reigns passing back to Captain Cook they will be hopeful of more limited over success.
India (1/2 for the series, 4/6 first ODI) will be hoping that they can conjure up the form the showed in England when they won the away ODI series by an impressive 5-0 whitewash (10/1 for the same scoreline) they have struggled in all three formats of the game lately and look vulnerable for England to attack. While England were enjoying Christmas the World Cup champions welcomed touring Pakistan for 3 ODIs and 2 t20s and were hoping to boost confidence but they lost the ODIs 2-1 and split the t20s as their miserable winter drags on, a winter with no series win to date.
India have made some changes in a bid to improve their fortunes and have dropped one of their biggest names in Virender Sehwag. The enigmatic opener missed out as he wasn't in the XI that beat Pakistan in the final ODI and it may spell the end of his limited-overs career as India look at fresh faces with the next big tournament not until the 2015 World Cup. The man replacing him is Cheteshwar Pujara (7/1 top series batsman) and will be responsible to chalking up the departed Sehwag's runs, he did hit 203 off just 221 in the Ranji Cup to show his limited overs prowess and will slot into an already powerful line-up with MS Dhoni (9/2) and Virat Kohli (11/4).
If India hope to make a series of this then the bowling is in need of a massive improvement, as an unit during the Test's they were completely out-bowled by England and they will need to find a hero in the attack on some of the flatter pitches. Ravi Ashwin (10/3) and Jadeja (5/1) will need to get as much from the surfaces as possible but Jadeja looks real value at 5/1 to be the top series bowler.
England (7/4 series -TOP INDUSTRY PRICE!, 13/8 1st ODI) exceeded expectations in both the Test series and the ODI series under Cook and Morgan respectively and with the lead handed back to Cook they stand a fantastic chance of compounding India's misery and winter of discontent. England have underwhelmed in their warm-ups losing both matches, the first seeing an English collapse while the second saw the bowlers failing to defend a near 300 score on a bowler friendly pitch, hopefully when the real games start they will be in better nick.
The brightest spot from the warm-up's has been Ian Bell (7/2 top series batsman) who has made scores of 91 and 108 in losing efforts and as one of England's best players of spin he is worth a punt. Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen are understandably 11/4 joint favourites and with a number of newer faces in the squad the trio will be heavily relied upon to do the bulk of the scoring and get England off to a flyer before the middle order 'closer' of Eoin Morgan comes in.
The bowling has been well below par by their own standards in the warm-ups as they shook off the jet lag and Christmas rust, there are some inexperienced faces on the bowling side too as they coaches and selectors cast a glance toward the World Cup 2015 in Australia, the pitches there won't turn as much but this will provide a stern test of future international credentials. With Anderson and Swann having well earned rests the attention will turn to pacemen of Steven Finn (3/1), Jade Dernbach (4/1), Stuart Broad (4/1) plus spinner Danny Briggs (8/1). Steven Finn was immense in the Test his injuries allowed him to participate in and his bounce and pace can tie the Indian order into all sorts of problems should the conditions allow. Danny Briggs is my tip here though as the young Hampshire spinner gets his chance to shine stepping out of Swann's shadow.
This should be a close series and could easily go either way with the talent and power available for both sides. I fancy England at the top industry price of 7/4 to take the series. I would expect five close games and England to sneak the series 3-2, a 5/2 shot.
England Series win @ 7/4
Worth a punt:
England 3-2 @ 5/2
Danny Briggs top England bowler @ 8/1
Ravindra Jadeja top India bowler @ 5/1