Ed Hawkins says Sri Lanka might, just might, pull of an upset in perfect conditions in Sharjah on Monday...
"What the Super 12 stage has lacked is a seismic shock. Could this be the game? Sri Lanka have a sluggish Sharjah surface and a massive toss bias to work with"
England v Sri Lanka
Monday 1 November, 14:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
England powered to victory over Australia, humiliating their rivals and establishing themselves as the team to beat in the process. It is tempting to reckon that it is their title to lose. But a word of caution.
England, just like everybody else, are vulnerable to the massive toss bias. They could still come unstuck (in a semi or final) if the flip goes against them. But they won't have to worry about that for a while with only mathematical gymnastics denying them a last-four spot.
What has been most impressive is their bowling. We know they can hit but in the field they have looked exceptional against West Indies and the Aussies, overturning a previous weakness.
England are currently 3.65 for glory, a price which seems to take into account that toss worry. Who the flip favouritism could really assist, though, is a team like Afghanistan. We note the 4.607/2 for then to qualify is value.
Probable XI Buttler, Roy, Malan, Bairstow, Livingstone, Moeen, Morgan, Woakes, Jordan, Rashid, Mills
Sri Lanka need to shuffle pack
Knockout cricket starts now for Sri Lanka. They simply have to win both their remaining games (West Indies their final opponents) to have any chance of making it to the semi-final.
As we have said before, their intent with the bat is strong. They were pinned down some-what against South Africa but still managed to post a competitive 142. It's with the ball where they might to look make improvements.
Wanindu Hasaranga's 'hat-trick' should be a reminder of their strength and others' weak-ness. Could they not pick an extra spinner to test England? A three-paceman attack plays to their strengths.
Possible XI Kusal, Nissanka, Asalanka, Avishka, Rajapaksa, Dhananjaya, Wanindu, Sha-naka, Chameera, Theekshana, Lahiru.
The average total from games (seven) at Sharjah is just 135. Five have been won by the chaser. In The IPL there were ten games. The average score was 137 and seven were won by the chaser. Combined, more than 150 has been busted just five times.
If Sri Lanka bat first and the runs par line is in the high 140s it looks a very solid short. England may even be worth taking on because the market could be pitched far too high, possibly a sell at 160.5.
Gamble on an upset
What the Super 12 stage has lacked is a seismic shock. Could this be the game?
Sri Lanka have a sluggish Sharjah surface and a massive toss bias to work with. The klaxon should be going off in everyone's heads. Not least England's, who were stunned by Sri Lanka during their streaky 50-over World Cup success.
Sri Lanka are 4.507/2. If they chase that could be cut to 3.90 immediately after but a few balls in it will soon rise. It's far from the worst bet in the world.
Jos Buttler has been price-boosted to 11/4 for top England bat after his demolition job on Australia. But might Dawid Malan come to the fore on a trickier surface? He is 4/1.
For Sri Lanka Bhanuka Rajapaksa has appeal because of his intent but the price of 9/2 is far too short.
Dushmantha Chameera took six wickets in three matches when the sides met in June so he could be underrated for top Sri Lanka bowler at 10/3.
We note that England are 5/6 to hit the most sixes and win the match. It's a related double in reality and despite Sri Lanka's impressive aggression, England still come out on top on the sixes count.
Could Afghanistan win it? On Cricket...Only Bettor
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Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye column p-l