The third match of this T20 series will be played in Bristol on Sunday. Despite Indian dominance in the first match, we will be treated to a series decider after England fought back in Cardiff on Friday.
England eventually won the second match with two balls to spare, largely down to 58 from Alex Hales after the bowlers had restricted India 148 on a quick, bouncy pitch.
Having been humiliated by the leg spinner Kuldeep Yadav in the first match, England worked extensively with Merlin, their spin bowling machine, in their few days off. It paid dividends in Cardiff. Yadav was not only wicketless but gave up 34 runs in his four overs. He managed just nine dot balls.
The key for taking a stranglehold at the SWALEC was the new ball bowling from England, however. David Willey bowled a superb first over and finished with a mere 18 runs off his four overs. The left-armer did not give the Indian batsmen room to play shots. Although Jake Ball didn’t exhibit the same control, he played a significant part too, dismissing the explosive Rohit Sharma for five.
It was the backup spell from Liam Plunkett that consolidated England’s position, though. The towering right-armer was at his best, taking full advantage of the bounce. If Bristol provides a similar surface, he could be a great price at 13/2 to take the top bowler honours. Plunkett has developed into a very skilful white-ball bowler; even Virat Kohli looked uncomfortable facing him.
Speaking of Kohli, the tourists’ skipper is out at 13/2 to be the top batsman in the match. The price is longer because he’s down at four, but there’s decent value there. Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul are the only other batsman worth considering from this Indian side, simply down to their spots in the order. Rahul at 7/1 is tempting given his majestic Old Trafford knock.
A certain Jos Buttler is the favourite in the top batsman market at 5/1. Buttler has the chance to bat all 20 overs – which is a terrifying thought for any opponent – and is in superb touch. The price is still a little short given the risks taken in T20 cricket, but few would be surprised to see the wicketkeeper-batsman dominate once again. India have to get him early to stop a match-changing innings.
The hero from Friday, Hales, is 8/1 to be the match’s top batsman and 4/1 to be England’s top batsman. Coming in at three or four, the Nottinghamshire man will likely have the time to compile a big score and we all know about his ability to accelerate. Playing spin in the middle overs is the concern but Hales dealt with it well in Cardiff.
These two teams are superbly matched. We’ve seen two well-contested matches so far, and the decider shouldn’t be any different. There’s not much value in the match winner market, so England to have the highest opening partnership at 17/20 and hit the most sixes at 10/11 are the best team bets.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*