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England v India ICC Trophy Final

Fingers crossed the weather holds up at Edgbaston tomorrow because if it does we could be in for a classic ICC ODI  Champions Trophy Final between the two best teams in the tournament, India and England.

Coral make India 8/11 to break the hearts of the ‘home’ supporters (England 11/10) and it is impossible to begrudge them favourite status following four impressive wins out of four this month.

In Shikhar Dhawan they have produced one of the players of the championship – certainly the most productive batsmen with 332 runs and still counting – and he has had such good back-up from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli that captain MS Dhoni, often their saviour in the past, has struggled even to get to the crease.

Their top order is the key. The Dhawan-Sharma partnership has averaged 90.75 during the series against 35.75 by Cook and Bell for England. That makes Coral’s 4/5 India to score more runs for the first wicket look extremely attractive.

So, too, is the 4/6 that India will outscore England over the first 15 overs. Dhawan, Sharma and Kohli have between them enjoyed a strike rate of around 88%, significantly higher than the 73% posted by Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott.

This area, of course, is where England have been criticised. The finger has most often been pointed at Trott, but he has scored more quickly than either Cook or Bell and has accumulated more runs in the tournament, too. ‘Mr Unflappable’ steered England home with a stylish unbeaten 82 in the semi-final against South Africa and he is 3/1 with Coral to again top score on his home ground.

It’s hard to see England changing their approach (if batting first) and if the likes of Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Ravi Bopara can’t produce the fireworks late on, England could be in trouble against such a talented Indian batting line-up, capable of chasing down any target. Batting second might well be the better option if Cook wins the toss – especially with rain delays likely to play a role.

Batting first or not, the big hope is that England’s bowlers will deliver and it’s fair to say that while India’s top order have been scoring runs for fun this tournament, they haven’t had to deal with an attacking unit as good as they will face tomorrow. James Anderson (5/2 to be England’s top bowler), is at the peak of his considerable powers right now and has enjoyed impressive support from Stuart Broad (100/30) and James Tredwell (7/2).

They will need to deliver again tomorrow if England are to prevail, but so much will depend on the Edgbaston conditions. If there’s little or no help for the bowlers and it turns out to be a batting-fest, then India would probably have the edge.

But while India have some very good seamers and spinners of their own, if the ball starts doing a bit, then Anderson and the others will fancy their chances of doing more with it and England might well be on course for their first ever 50-over title.

Written by Jon Freeman