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Rupert Wyman 17th Dec 2008 - 15:24

Monty and England all in a spin

England spinner Monty Panesar has been heavily criticised following England's dismal defeat in the 1st Test against India.

Monty did not take a single wicket in helpful conditions in India's second innings, when the home side managed to post 387 runs for the loss of four wickets.

From a dominating position England unravelled into a team destined for defeat. Kevin Pietersen's side had a first innings lead of 75 runs but the mood of the match changed on the fourth day.

In England 's second innings the run rate was slow and only 57 runs were scored between lunch and tea. All of the momentum built up on the first three days seemed to be lost and so it proved.

To win the Test India needed to score the fourth highest total in run chases in Test cricket history. Virender Sehwag helped the Indian momentum to further build with a quick-fire 83 leaving India in a good position for the final day. In the end the hosts easily reached the total with talisman Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh scoring 103 and 85 runs respectively.

Following the display England have suffered much ridicule and none more so than Panesar. The likeable Luton man has no doubt been hurt by the criticism but the stark truth remains that he is still England's best spinner and the tourists need a much-improved display from him if selected.

However there are rumours that all-rounder Stuart Broad could be picked ahead of Monty, leaving Graeme Swann as the sole front-line spinner in just his second Test match of his career.

Unsurprisingly India are 11/10 to win the match compared with England at 7/1. However it is the draw that is the favourite at evens.

The 2nd Test venue of Mohali is notorious for bad light and fog at this time of year, hence the short price about the draw.

You wouldn't argue about the price for a home win following the demoralising defeat for England but the price for away win still looks big.

For the first three days England looked more than competitive in Chennai and a similar performance over five days would at least give value for the 7/1.

Opener Alistair Cook is an interesting proposition at 7/2 to be England's top batsman. Captain Kevin Pietersen as per usual is the favourite in this market at 3/1. But following the 1st Test doubts re-emerged over his captaincy and it remains to be seen how KP's ego has been affected by the talk.

Andrew Strauss is also a 7/2 shot and he is in good form after scoring a century in both innings in Chennai. Though it is his fellow opener Cook that looks the better value at the price.

The 2nd Test begins in the early hours of Friday morning live on Sky Sports. Can England claw back some pride ahead of next year's Ashes Series?

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