All-round Samit can star for England

  • By: Dave Tickner
  • Last Updated: January 9 2013, 20:04 GMT

After a Christmas break, India and England meet in a third and final format over the next fortnight with a five-match ODI series.

Samit Patel: Key role to play with bat and ball

England certainly had the better of the pre-Yuletide action, claiming a first Test series win in India since 1985 and then snatching a 1-1 draw in the Twenty20s.

England's ODI task appears as giant as that they faced in the Tests, having won none of their last 13 one-dayers in India (there was a memorable World Cup tie in Bangalore two years ago) and failing to win a series there since 1984.

On paper, though, this appears to be a good chance for Alastair Cook's side. India have just been beaten at home by Pakistan in a series where MS Dhoni was frequently tasked with rescuing his side after spectacular top-order collapses. They were bowled out twice in the 160s, and needed a Dhoni masterclass to make what proved their highest score of the series in game one - a mere 227/6 - after being reduced to 29/5.

England, meanwhile, had an unmatched record in the 50-over game in 2012 as they won 12 of their 14 completed matches. That gave them a win percentage above 85, well clear of nearest challengers South Africa who won eight of 12 for a 67 per cent record.

The tourists also have Kevin Pietersen back in ODI action for the first time since February last year after his successful reintegration.

Were England taking a full-strength side into this series, they'd be well worth backing at sportingbet's 17/10.

But, despite their strong recent record and India's clear struggles, the twin defeats in warm-up games and the absence of James Anderson, Jonathan Trott and - perhaps most importantly - Graeme Swann are enough to steer us away from the outright market.

It's two of those England absences that have found us the angle we'll be taking.

No Trott leaves a hole in the top four, and Swann's absence leaves England without an experienced frontline spinner.

The man to profit from both those voids might just be Samit Patel.

With England reluctant to move Eoin Morgan from his 'finishing' role at number five in 50-over cricket, Patel may find himself batting at four behind Cook, Ian Bell and Pietersen.

Patel batted in the top four in both warm-up matches and will be well used to Indian conditions after being involved in the Test series.

He didn't make much impression with the bat in the Tests, but was a tad unlucky. He was on the wrong end of a couple of ropey umpiring decisions and should, in any case, be more comfortable in the ODI arena where he has better past form to fall back on.

He averages close to 35 in ODI cricket in Asia and made a career-best 70 not out in Mohali when England toured India in October 2011. If he does get a chance in the top four, he has the talent to take it and make a mockery of 20/1 quotes to be England's top series batsman.

And with no Swann (and Danny Briggs playing no part in either warm-up game), Patel can expect plenty of opportunity with his useful left-arm spin.

Again he has some form to bring to the table, having taken eight wickets in his last five ODIs in Asia - including a three-wicket haul the last time he played in India. And again he's overpriced to lead the way for England at Stan James' 14/1 to be the side's leading wicket-taker.

Another factor in Patel's favour - in both markets - is that with his all-round abilities key to balancing the side, he is likely to play all five matches while the seamers in particular will be on a rotation policy.

Having made the case for Patel in both batting and bowling markets, we can't resist a minimum-stakes play on the double which pays 230/1 at Sky Bet and Ladbrokes.

For our final wager ahead of the series, we'll back Che Pujara to be India's top batsman at 8/1. He's yet to play ODI cricket, but had a superb 2012 in Test cricket and, having been called into India's squad for this series after the top-order shambles against Pakistan, looks certain to get his chance.

His run-scoring pedigree and class are without question, so the price available can only be down to his lack of experience in the format and a perception that he's a blocker - he's already been handed Rahul Dravid's nickname 'The Wall' in some quarters due to his impeccable defensive technique.

But he's more than capable of playing a different way. He gave a glimpse in the Test series that he can play a more aggressive game when he smashed 41 not out off 51 balls to seal victory in Ahmedabad and has struck two double-centuries in Ranji Trophy cricket this season at 80-plus strike-rates.

His 'List A' record is also excellent, with eight hundreds and 17 half-centuries in 61 innings at an average north of 56.

If he takes to ODI cricket as we expect him to, he'll be half this price for future series. Indeed, he's as short as 9/2 in places here and that price looks far closer to the mark in our eyes.

  • The series begins at 0630 GMT on Friday, with all five matches live on Sky Sports.


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