Ed Hawkins: BPL providing plenty of thrills and spills

Sangakkara needs to get Dhaka firing
Sangakkara needs to get Dhaka firing

Our cricket correspondent goes trend spotting in the franchise T20 league and also wonders whether New Zealand are value to beat Sri Lanka...

"If Gayle is expected to be explosive then most are still waiting for the Dhaka Dynamites to detonate"

The Bangladesh Premier League is more than halfway to completion and it may be only now that gamblers are beginning to get to grips with a chaotic and unpredictable league.

The second match of the tournament saw some crowd disturbance and the third match was delayed because Sylhet had failed to provide the correct forms to register their overseas players.

The on-field action has been far from calm since. Matches have been topsy-turvy to say the least and few have seen one side dominate. Indeed, a back-to-lay strategy of outsiders would be paying off comfortably such is the nature for flip flops.

Comilla are top of the points table following their latest victory over Chittagong. They have won five from seven but as if to once again expose the helter-skelter nature of the competition, in their previous game they were undone by Sylhet who had lost each of their five games.

Sylhet have Ravi Bopara and the Essex man could boast that he beat them on his own with four wickets and 50 from 38 balls.

But the surprise package have been the Barisal Bulls. With five victories from six they are the closest thing to reliability. Barisal and Sylhet kick-off the tournament again on Sunday after a mini break.

And Barisal are about to get more reliable, one would have thought. Chris Gayle, the master blaster himself, will join their ranks from Sunday.

He is likely to form an all-Caribbean opening partnership with Evin Lewis, who scored his maiden T20 ton in very much the style of Gayle against Dhaka on Tuesday. His 101 came off just 86 balls and he hit six sixes.

Gayle is expected to be available for Barisal's four matches in Dhaka before leaving for the Big Bash League. He need only produce a couple of whirlwind performances to ensure qualification for the play-offs.

If Gayle is expected to be explosive then most are still waiting for the Dhaka Dynamites to detonate. They sit fourth at present with three wins and three defeats, not the sort of record one would expect for a side led by Kumar Sangakkara.

Their last game was a fine example of why it pays to get with the outsiders in-running. Dhaka reduced Comilla to 88 for six before some lusty blows from Ashar Zaidi got them to a respectable 141.

If it was pretty even steven at that stage, Dhaka soon took control again and with Sangakkara at the crease and going well in the 11th over at 70 for two, they suddenly lost their way. The former Sri Lanka man was run out, Ryan ten Doeschate got horribly bogged down and they fell ten runs short of their target.

Dhaka may well get their house in order but another side who appear to be underperforming are Chittagong Vikings. They have just two wins from eight and are running out of time.

It is a surprise to see them struggling. Tamim Iqbal, who is actually the top runscorer in the tournament, Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Akmal brothers, Mohammad Amir, Jeevan Mendis and spin pair Saeed Ajmal and Yasir Shah are individually fine. But as a collective it's not working out.

Their nadir was a six-wicket defeat by Dhaka after being bowled out for 92. Not that it would have been unreasonable to expect the contest to have been a bit closer than that after the collapse.

Barisal have defended 108 against Sylhet and Rangpur 109 against Sylhet. A big first-innings total is no guarantee, either. In the first game Chittagong couldn't defend 187 against Rangpur and they also failed to defend 177 versus Comilla.

So far there is a slight toss bias which will interest in-play bettors. Twelve from 20 have been won by the chasers. But there is a significant toss bias for day-night contests.

The last six floodlit affairs have been won by the side batting second. Overall it's seven from ten. Dew can often be a factor in Bangladesh and a wet ball could be to blame for the trend. It's slippery stuff all round.

Kiwis set to cruise

New Zealand entertain Sri Lanka in a two-Test series starting on Thursday. They are 1.321/3 for a series win. Could that miniscule price be construed as value, though?

Let's look at the facts. Sri Lanka have one three-day game to prepare an inexperienced squad for the trials and tribulations of a seaming and swinging ball. Of the 15-man squad only eight have played ten Tests or more.

Much will depend on their core of senior players. Angelo Mathews, the captain, Dinesh Chandimal, Rangana Herath and Suranga Lakmal have ability not to be sniffed at, but it is some task to carry the rest of the XI.

To that end it is a surprise that Kaushal Silva, the experienced opener, was left out. An injury to pacer Shaminda Eranga weakens them further.

Sri Lanka, of course, are undergoing a rebuilding phase following the retirements of Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Even with those two - and other stars of yore - they have a terrible record in New Zealand.

Two wins from 15 Tests highlight the difference in conditions on which their players are schooled. They have lost four of the seven series played.

New Zealand are 2.021/1 to win 2-0 and 2.3211/8 to win 1-0. Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner could be too hot to handle for the Lankans.

The hosts are 1.695/7 to win the first Test in Dunedin. We would expect to get better than that, however, as the draw could shorten up with a bit of weather around.

Ed Hawkins P/L

2015: +£342.30
2014: +315.10
2013: +250.80
To £10 level stakes (unless otherwise stated), based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate.
Follow Ed on Twitter @cricketbetting

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