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1st Test Result
It was a humbling first defeat for England in the Stokes/McCullum era as South Africa’s pace attack ripped through the hosting batsmen with ineffable ease. An innings defeat within three days was very much a shock for the Lord’s crowd, and while England may be tempted to revert to their winning formula of chasing if given the opportunity here, that’s a proven disadvantage at this track, with only 17.9% of matches won by the side batting second.
Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada were the difference in the capital, taking 13 wickets between them, though while pace was the recipe at Lord’s, we’d expect spin to come into the picture more on this occasion. Keshev Maharaj was used sparingly in the first test, though we’d expected him t o come into his own here and wreak some havoc, so he wouldn’t be the worst shout for Man of the Match at a current price of 15/1.
Zak Crawley will likely be given another opportunity to impress, though the stats don’t lie and his 22.25 average is nothing short of abysmal for an England opener. There’s little doubt Crawley has talent, though his confidence is shot at the moment, and he stays in the side largely due to a lack of effective alternatives, with Harry Brook the only one in the squad even remotely capable of stepping in.
England To Win (Toss Dependent)
As has been the case in recent years, England’s success largely rests on the form of Joe Root. Indeed, they’ve not won a test outing in over two years when Root has failed to reach a half-century in the match. Fortunately, only two players in history have a higher average than Root’s 65.08 at Old Trafford having played as many matches (8), and after a couple of off innings in the first test, he won’t be far away from a big score.
The Proteas have a poor record to contest with here at Old Trafford, winning just one of 10 previous tests here. Four of those have been draws and while on the surface that may seem like the likely outcome again here considering 43% of tests at this famous ground have ended without a result, none of the last seven have and only one of the last 12 since 2005 have seen a no result, so we’re inclined to back this one swing one way or another.
The toss will be imperative, with overcast conditions expected early on before it slowly clears up over the five days. England have proven they’re strong when chasing under new leadership, and a pre-toss bet would be a tentative stake on the home side given the circumstances and a nullified visiting pace attack, though it’s worth waiting for the toss before making your selection here.
ENGLAND TO WIN (TOSS DEPENDENT)
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