Betting odds shorten on India pulling off the biggest comeback in 80 years


Two weeks ago, England were riding high on the crest of a wave. India’s top order looked all at sea against the might of Anderson and Broad, Virat Kohli was being expected to score more than half of their runs single handed and the seamers looked toothless against the depth of England’s batting line up.

As England enjoyed their 2-0 series lead, there were mutterings of a 5-0 whitewash, and it certainly looked like a genuine possibility. Woakes was back, Stokes had put his personal troubles behind him, and the England selectors had an embarrassment of riches. The thought of India staging a fightback was the stuff of fantasy – after all, to see the last instance of a team coming back to win a five test series after going 2-0 down, we have to go back to the days of Bradman in 1937-38. Bookmakers were offering 30/1 on India to do it, and frankly, that didn’t look overly generous.

What a difference a test makes

Then along came Trent Bridge and all bets were off. A scan of the online betting sites on shows that those odds have now been slashed to 5/1. The India team that turned up at Nottingham played with a level of confidence and belief that belied the punishment that had been meted out in the first two tests. For sure, the first test was tight, but England always to have enough of the upper hand. And at Lord’s it was one-way traffic.

India’s renaissance is as much concerned with the “how” as the “what.” India’s top order demonstrated a resolve to play straighter, and every batsman in the top order played his part, from K L Rahul’s refusal to be cowed by the new ball to Rahane’s stickability and willingness to play second fiddle to his captain.

Same old England

If India looked like a different team, for England it was a case of the same old story that has dogged the squad over recent years. When things are going well, this is a team that looks in a different league to any opposition. But when the going gets tough, the same old cracks start to appear.

Alastair Cook, the highest scoring England test batsman ever, prodded forward with uncertainty; Stokes insisted on searching for that magic ball and served up a mixture of long hops and half volleys; Rashid consistently bowled one four-ball every over; as for Anderson, as soon as the shine was off the new ball, his head dropped and he was chuntering and complaining at the batsman, the umpire and anyone else who would listen.

So can they do it?

India will go to Southampton with their tails up and momentum behind them. However, one swallow does not make a summer. Joe Root knows that he has the personnel at his disposal to put the series to bed. Bairstow has been confirmed as fit to play, although he will not keep wicket, and the word is that the surface at Southampton will be one to suit the seamers.

For India, it is a case of whether they can build on the success of Trent Bridge – if so, it will set up an enthralling, and potentially historic finale at The Oval.