Well, that escalated quickly.
After demolishing India in the second test, England were well fancied to repeat the dose at seam bowling friendly Trent Bridge; the bookies even making Joe Root’s men an odds-on concern. How wrong we all were.
India produced a much improved performance to dish out a taste of their own medicine to England, and the 204-run margin of victory was no less than they deserved.
They say a week is a long time in sport, and fewer truer words could be spoken. Now England are the side with problems, with top order almost devoid of runs this summer and a bowling attack which continues to frustrate when conditions are not A1 for swing or seam bowling.
Add into the mix an unimaginative and passive captain in Root, and most of the issues belong to the Three Lions.
So can India level the series at Southampton’s Rose Bowl in the fourth test, which kicks off on Thursday?
Fourth Test Betting Tips
You would think that in sport momentum is everything, but India showed last time out just how quickly the form train can be derailed.
Now it’s up to England to wrestle authority back from the visitors.
They will make changes, with James Vince likely to come in for Ollie Pope at four and Moeen Ali a candidate for the spinner’s role after some fine form at county level.
Indeed, the Rose Bowl pitch tends to have a habit of turning markedly late in matches – see Ali’s six-wicket haul the last time these two sides met on the south coast, and those good memories might just get the hirsute off-spinner back into the frame.
The other question mark over Keaton Jennings’ place in the side is unlikely to be resolved with no obvious alternative selected in the squad.
Jonny Bairstow has been cleared to play after suffering a fractured finger in the third test, although he may have to make do with a specialist batsman’s role with Jos Buttler keeping the gloves.
India could name an unchanged side – despite Virat Kohli’s preference for change, although Ravi Ashwin is said to be struggling for fitness.
His absence would be a huge blow for the Indians, who were able to mitigate his loss in seam friendly conditions in Nottingham. At the Rose Bowl, however, spin is likely to play a key part in the outcome of the match, and Kohli will want his spin supremo in the side.
The last time England and India met at Southampton it was the hosts who won at a canter, but you sense the 2018 edition could come down to the toss.
There’s some nice weather around, according to the forecast, and so swing should be less of a factor. Instead, batting last on a wearing wicket could be the difference-maker, and so the captain that wins the coin flick is likely to want to get in first.
Should it be England, Jennings and Alistair Cook will need to see off a spirited opening spell from Jasprit Bumrah, fresh from a five-wicket haul at Nottingham, and Ishant Sharma. If they can, more agreeable batting conditions should duly follow.
Frankly, this is a 50/50 match where the bookies’ odds – you can get up to 9/5 on an India victory – are just plain wrong.
Bide your time and wait for the toss; making sure to back the side that bats first.
Fourth Test: Side Markets
It is bordering on the psychotic to oppose Virat Kohli in the Top India Batsman market, such has been his dominance this series, but even the best in the business fail occasionally and while such prices are available we’re willing to dive in.
A case could easily be made for the classy Cheteshwar Pujara, but instead our eye has been caught by the huge 13/2 available on Ajinkya Rahane.
He looked to be somewhere back to his free-flowing best when compiling 81 in the first innings at Trent Bridge, and while a gap of four years can be taken with a pinch of salt, the last time Rahane took to the Rose Bowl turf he scored a pair of half-centuries.
There’s more titillating value in the Top England Bowler market, where we expect the spinners to shine as the match ages.
Adil Rashid, at 7/1 is another bet that needs to be waited on until the teams are announced, but if the leg spinner gets the nod he can cause havoc at the Rose Bowl late on in the game.
Spinners regularly take five-wicket hauls in the last innings of test matches, and something similar at Southampton would see the Yorkshire man romp home in this market.