Unbeaten India are 5/6 to beat England (Evens) at Edgbaston on Sunday in the ICC Cricket World Cup. If Pakistan, as they should, beat bottom-of-the-table Afghanistan in Leeds on Saturday, then Eoin Morgan’s side will start the game outside the top four and looking down the barrel of an early and embarrassing exit.

The two games played in Birmingham so far this World Cup have been won by the side batting second in relatively low-scoring games. New Zealand successfully chased South Africa’s 241 courtesy of a Kane Williamson masterclass while Pakistan were indebted to the excellent Babar Azam’s unbeaten ton as they ran down the Black Caps’ 236 earlier in the week.

The Edgbaston surface is likely to be slow and will turn. If that is the case it is likely to suit India more than the hosts and it is hard to make a case for Morgan’s side at present. The conspiracy theorists will suggest India will want England to win as they will not want to give neighbours Pakistan a leg up to the semi-finals, but I don’t buy it.


India were far too good for Australia earlier in the competition and haven’t really been tested so far in the tournament. England meanwhile have already lost to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia and I am surprised they are only 9/2 to win the World Cup given they, arguably, have four must-win games against India and New Zealand in the round-robin, and then another two against either India, New Zealand and Australia in the semi-final and final.

India’s batting has not yet fired on all cylinders and if you wanted to pick holes there are doubts as to whether Vijay Shankar is good enough to bat at four, whether MS Dhoni chews up too many balls before he tees off and whether Kedar Jadav is quite good enough with either bat or ball.

That said India have the best bowling side in the tournament and Kohli has scored four 50s in the competition so far but has yet to reach three figures. If England don’t get him early – and they think he is vulnerable reaching outside his off stump early in his innings – then the Indian skipper is too good to keep getting 50 and out.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Virat Kohli of India plays a shot during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between India and Australia at The Oval on June 9, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

The two best sides in the World Cup Australia and India have built their innings around a solid rather than spectacular start. If England bat first at Edgbaston it will be interesting to see how England’s openers go about the job. You would expect Jason Roy to be eventually fit enough to take over at the top of the innings, but he and Jonny Bairstow must show Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami the respect they deserve especially on a deck which is not likely to be a 300+ wicket.

England must stand up and be counted. They have been dreadful batting second despite centuries from Jos Buttler and Joe Root against Pakistan. At the time I was critical about the inability of either to get England over the line, but I don’t think anyone thought it was anything other than a minor blip. We now know it was the beginning of a worrying, but not yet fatal, trend.

It pains me to say it but India, on current form, should be shorter in the betting than 5/6 against an England side who have so far failed to cope with the weight of expectation.

England expects, but can Morgan’s side deliver?

Tip: India to win at

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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