India still strong favourites despite format switch

Ben Stokes was in good form during the ODIs in Bangladesh AFP

A new year, a new format for England's cricketers, as they return to India for a three-ODI, three-T20 series, only weeks after being handed a 4-0 drubbing in the five-match Test series against the same opponents.

Ostensibly England's prospects ought to be better in the shorter formats. After all, they've shown some impressive form in white-ball cricket in recent months, and their last such engagement in India came at the World T20 in March and April last year, when they outlasted India to reach the final against West Indies in Kolkata. (The less said about what happened next, the better…)

However, India are pretty formidable in the shorter formats themselves, and the odds-setters at Bet365 aren't holding out many hopes of a revival in England's fortunes in the coming weeks. India are a meagre 5/2 to take the 50-over series by a 3-0 clean sweep. England, by contrast, are 12/1 to achieve the same feat.

England are at least expected to put up a fight, in keeping with their recent reputation, and a 2-1 series win to India is deemed the likeliest scoreline at 11/8. The price for England to triumph by the same margin is 9/4.

As for the individual movers and shakers, Joe Root, at 11/4, is deemed England's likeliest batsman to top-score in the series - albeit he may be distracted both by the arrival of his first child last week, and by the impending prospect of inheriting the Test captaincy from Alastair Cook. Further down the charts, keep an eye on Ben Stokes at 8/1. He was outstanding in the ODIs against Bangladesh before Christmas.

No prizes for predicting who Bet365 think will be India's leading run-scorer. Virat Kohli, like Root, has captaincy issues swirling around him, following MS Dhoni's surprise resignation last week. But he was in blistering form in the Test series, and at 5/2, you won't get much return on your investment if you do choose to back him. As for Dhoni, he is a more inviting 15/2 to lead the run-scoring. Perhaps being liberated from the leadership will help his game have a last hurrah?