England retain the faith of skysports.com readers despite their sluggish start in New Zealand.
By Tim Clement - Twitter: @SkyTimClement
Last Updated: 13/03/13 2:02pm
England have retained the faith of skysports.com readers and Sky Bet punters alike despite their sluggish start to the series with New Zealand.
The tourists hung on for a draw in the first Test after failing to make 200 for a fourth successive time in their opening innings of a Test series, before being left with virtually no chance of a win as the Black Caps made 460 in response.
However, Alastair Cook and Nick Compton both managed centuries to see England salvage a draw, sufficiently retaining expectations of triumphing in the series.
In a poll on skysports.com, 72 per cent of voters are backing Cook's men to take a 1-0 lead in the series by winning the second Test in Wellington, which begins at 9pm live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
Sky Bet support that view by making them 8/13 favourites to emerge victorious, a price which is certainly not deemed too short by their punters, with around 90 per cent of stakes backing the tourists.
New Zealand are attracting virtually no support despite their impressive start, with a price of 8/1 to win the series leaving punters cold, while only 17 per cent of poll voters are backing Brendon McCullum's men to triumph in the second Test.
The expected success for England will inevitably prompt heightened hopes for the upcoming Ashes series, with Australia in turmoil amid disciplinary issues.
Four players have been dropped for the third Test with India after they slumped to a 2-0 series deficit following an innings' defeat in the second, creating the unenviable history of being the first side to do so having declared in their first innings.
Their odds of regaining the Ashes have already been on the drift, going out from 3/1 to 7/2, and are expected to continue to do so if England prevail in New Zealand.
Sky Bet's Ned Brooker said: "After another poor start to an away Test series, England produced the sort of response that our punters have come to expect.
"Nearly all the money is coming for them to be victorious in Wellington despite their short price and slow start to the series and, if they do live up to expectations, we're expecting to lay them heavily for the Ashes this summer.
"Alastair Cook is also attracting a large amount of support in our markets and is the 11/4 favourite to be England's top run scorer in the second Test."