King Kohli’s ‘Invincibles’ up to Bangladesh Tests
India have had Test match cricket all their own way in recent times. Virat Kohli is fresh from leading his country to a 3-0 series win over South Africa recently to record India’s 12th successive home series win.
The Indians bid to make it 13 and are undefeated in the new World Test Championship and start as favourites to win the two-Test series in Bangladesh.
James Buttler put up 10 units on the recent New Zealand vs England T20I series and returned 22.25 units, including calling the 3-2 series win at 11/4. James is back to find the best bets as the Tigers take on the Blue Tigers as the hosts look to ambush their visitors and end their hot streak.
What chance Bangladesh?
India has never been beaten across six Test series in Bangladesh, with India winning seven matches and two ending drawn.
And Bangladesh is reeling from the loss of their greatest ever player and Test captain Shakib Al Hasan after he was banned for two years (one suspended) for failing to report bookie approaches. The players had previously been on strike over disagreements with the Bangladesh Cricket Board. It’s all been a bit messy.
Shakib was the poster boy for cricket in his country and arguably the best allrounder currently in the game, but he can have no complaints – all players know the rules. Also missing against India Tamim Iqbal whose wife is expecting a baby, all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin is out with an injured back and Mushfiqur has given up his keeping duties.
Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo has worked wonders to keep his side on an even keel through the T20 series. He has extolled the virtues of consistent team selection and appears to have plugged the hole in the bottom of the boat.
This series marks the Bangladesh debut in the World Test Championship with September’s 224-run defeat to Afghanistan being the only 5-day game Domingo has overseen.
Bangladesh can cause an upset, particularly with the second Test in Eden Gardens in Kolkata being the first pink-ball Test played by either country. The pink ball can swing around corners during the dusk period and if that falls right for the tourists it will potentially level up what should be a series dominated by India.
Mominul Haque has taken over the captaincy in what he described as a “totally unexpected” move. The challenge facing his team cannot be underestimated.
Are India invincible?
India are immune to Test defeat in 2019. The only minor blip was a January draw in a rain-affected game in Australia. They have ended victorious after every other Test this year. And they show no signs of losing the hunger.
India also won the three-match T20 series that preceded the Tests by 2-1 after Bangladesh had chased down the required runs in the opener. India knows Bangladesh are more than capable of landing the occasional punch. But this India side has a solid chin and have extended their advantage at the top of the ICC World Test Rankings and World Test Championship. They know how to win and retain a hunger for doing that a lot.
Rohit Sharma came back into the side to hit 529 runs in four innings against South Africa and looks to have solved a problem in the top order leaving no obvious weakness in the line-up. If being overly picky the wicketkeeper/batsman role being wrestled over by Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant, neither of who have nailed down the place.
The only change for India to the team that beat South Africa is the fit-again Kuldeep Yadav replaces Shahbaz Nadeem who debuted the final Test. The home side continues to be missing all-rounder Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah, the latter being the best seamer in the world right now.
King Kohli, to dominate?
It is as rare as an Indian Test defeat that Virat Kohli does not start a series hot favourite to score the most runs. The India captain is only 11 points behind Australia’s Steven Smith at the top of the ICC Test Batting Rankings, but Rohit Sharma begins this series as favourite in the market.
In a two-match series, one big innings could be all it takes to win this bet and there are four India players most capable of going really big. Kohli and Sharma are two, but don’t disregard Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara. Agarwal especially came of age against South Africa with his first two Test tons.
Play the value with Pujara or take the legendary run-maker in Kohli in a market where all four have viable claims. Kohli has good memories of the only Test previously played in Indore – he made 211.
Ravi Ashwin is always the play on home soil
Ravi Ashwin landed plenty of bets in the recent series against the Proteas, taking the most wickets in the series (15) and also landing the most wickets in the first innings in two of the three Tests. The spinner doesn’t top the series averages, but this market is all about taking wickets and Kohli will bowl him until the wickets come.
Fellow spinner Ravi Jadeja and pacemen Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav were also in wicket-taking form against South Africa, but Ashwin is favourite in this market for a very good reason.
Mushfiqur is the standout Bangla bat
For Bangladesh, Mushfiqur Rahim is the pedigree player, but there are several contenders that provide plenty of appeal. Mominul Haque could respond or whither with the captaincy on his shoulders and is one to avoid because of that uncertainty.
21-year-old Saif Hassan is new to the side and made an unbeaten 220 in the domestic arena last month. Imrul Kayes also hit an unbeaten double century recently and both men come into the series with plenty of confidence. Both of these players are nicely priced.
Bangladesh bowling tough to call
There are a number of reasons to avoid the Bangladesh bowling markets. If this series follows the same pattern as the one India dominated against South Africa then the wickets may be hard to come by. Taijal Islam is the highest ranked in Tests and would tempt, but the chances are the scalps will be shared around and that makes this market a bit of a lottery,
Mustafizur Rahman back in contention but seam may not rule the roost on Indian tracks. Al-Amin Hossain may partner ‘The Fiz’ with the new ball, but again his spells could be short and wicketless.
The Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore
The only previous Test at the ground in Indore where the 1st Test of this series is being played was between India and New Zealand in 2016/17. India amassed 557 for five before declaring and winning by a huge 321-run margin.
This Test could be a high scoring game again.
FIRST TEST: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore – 14 to 18 November 2019
SECOND TEST: Eden Gardens, Kolkata – 22 to 26 November 2019