Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

Back India to put England's hopes in their place
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The big boys are in town – the No 1-ranked Test team and recent World Cup winners India are here to provide a mid-summer highlight.

And to add to the intrigue their coach is Duncan Fletcher, who led England to that memorable Ashes victory in 2005. Fletcher was less than chuffed to be shown the door two years later, so his revenge will have cooled nicely and be ready for serving.

The four-Test series brings India's generation of legendary batsmen to an English audience, possibly for the last time in some cases, and fans will be hoping to be "there" when Sachin Tendulkar completes his century of centuries in Tests (51) and one-day internationals (48). There will also be vociferous support from Britain's Indian community – in 1990, just after England's heroic World Cup semi-final in Turin, Anglo-Indian lads at the Old Trafford Test chanted "We all agree, Azza is better than Gazza", Mohammad Azharuddin being still a prince before his fall.

England's ambition to be the No 1 Test team will be fiercely examined. They may sense that an ageing India side is vulnerable but I expect the tourists to show England how far they have to go. The bets are: £20 win India, first Test (3-1 generally); £10 India to win series, (2-1 Betfred); £10 India to win series 2-1 (15-2 Stan James). I sense that Eoin Morgan may be busy (£5 England top batsman, 10-1 Ladbrokes) while VVS Laxman stashed nearly 250 runs against the Windies (£5 India top batsman, 6-1 Coral).