Rain is England’s main worry for second Test

ENGLAND vs PAKISTAN

TODAY, 11.00AM SKY SPORTS 1

FINISHING early is not always the sign of a job well done. England can argue, though, that they put in a marvellous shift before ending the first Test against Pakistan prior to lunch on day four of five at Trent Bridge.

In a fine Three Lions performance, the fielding was excellent and the bowlers utterly dominated the tourists. With James Anderson’s swing bewildering the opposition, he understandably grabbed the headlines thanks to career-best match figures of 11-71.

With damp and cloudy conditions anticipated throughout the second Test at Edgbaston, the Lancastrian is 2-1 to be his side’s top bowler again. But I’d prefer a cautious buy of his bowling index with Sporting Index at 50.

Admittedly, to return a profit he needs a big haul, but Anderson claimed six wickets in his last game for England here, against Australia in last year’s Ashes, taking a five-for in the first innings.

Batting-wise there is room for improvement, with Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, in particular, caught by the glare of the spotlight.

Respectively the team’s vice captain and, potentially, most important player, they have proven their ability often enough not to be straining their necks from looking over their shoulders. All the same, they will be relieved Ian Bell is nursing a broken foot and that the selectors are going with a four-man bowling attack for now.

Messrs Cook and Pietersen made 51 runs between them in their combined four visits to the crease in Nottingham, but, despite a recent lack of consistent form, both have an average comfortably skywards of 40 – Cook’s is 43.47 and Pietersen’s 48.57.

By contrast the middle order looks in top shape and Eoin Morgan confirmed his ability to win matches is not restricted to the shorter forms of the game with a first innings knock of 130.

If that form carries straight over to Edgbaston, then at 8-1 he is a wise investment to be top England batsman with Pietersen at 4-1, second-favourite behind Andrew Strauss at 7-2, and Cook 5-1.

However, with the top batsman market decided after the first innings, it might be wiser to back Morgan’s individual form by buying his runs at 64 with Sporting Index. On top of a 147 match total last time out, he has also scored two centuries and a half-century in ODIs and added two more scores over 50 in T20s in 2010 for England.

The weather serves as a slight warning, but England still look worth backing at 8-13 on Betdaq for victory. Only two of the last 10 Tests at Edgbaston have not seen a positive result, and on those occasions a whole day was lost to rain each time.

Keep an eye on the forecast. William Hill offer the chance to bet on when the match will end and it might be worth taking their 10-11 for day five if the rainclouds gather.

POINTERS...
Buy James Anderson bowling index at 50 with Sporting Index
Buy Eoin Morgan’s runs at 64 with Sporting Index
England to win the second Test at 8/13 on Betdaq