Hawk Eye on Sri Lanka v England First Test: Host duo go under the radar

Jos Buttler
Buttler has taken a big cut

Ed Hawkins uncovers two cracking bets on the top Sri Lanka bat market for the action in the first test from Galle and suggests a 16/1 top bowler wager...

"Chandimal's fourth win came against South Africa at the end of last year in the first Test. He missed the second through injury. The 6/1 looks toppy in the extreme from Sportsbook"

Back Dilruwan Perera top Sri Lanka bowler (if bowling first) 5/2 Sportsbook (1pt)

Sri Lanka decent at home

Zak Crawley will open the batting for England in Galle with Dominic Sibley as Rory Burns is absent to be at the birth of his child. Crawley is fast becoming England's Mr Dependable.

In an eight-Test career he has already batted in every position (opener included) in the top six bar No 5. And in that time he has top scored three times.

Last time out he was a winner with a career-defining 267 against Pakistan at Southampton. This column was on Jos Buttler at 10/1 in that innings. He got 152. Buttler has taken a hefty cut to 6/1, which is a great shame.

We have a rule that we don't follow the money and go in for a back-to-back winner. So the 7/2 does not hold the appeal it might normally do. Likewise the study sample is a little skinny. In Crawley's favour, as discussed on Cricket...Only Bettor this week, is the growing evidence that he is England's best player of spin.

England top bat wins/matches
Root 7/52
Buttler 3/30
Woakes 1/26
S Curran 2/19
Pope 4/13
Burns 3/21
Crawley 3/8
Sibley 0/12

England top bowl wins/matches
Woakes 1 5t/28
Anderson 9 6t/40
Broad 9 9t/48
Archer 2 t/11
S Curran 2 2t/19
Wood 2/8
Bess 1/7
Leach 0/6

Root great bet for top bowler

It is possible that you will look at the win rates of Englsnd spinners Jack Leach and Dom Bess and reckon they are horrific value at the top two in the betting for top England bowler. Leach is 9/4 and Bess 11/4.

And then you will spy James Anderson's numbers. Anderson goes off at 10/3. Surely it's a no brainer?

Well, no. Those respective records come from, by and large, Anderson-friendly conditions. Green, seaming and swinging wickets. As discussed in our match odds preview, spinners dominate to the extent that Anderson might not even play. And he will probably bowl a fraction the number of overs combined by Leach and Bess.

Still, we're in no rush to bet the spin twins at those prices. Instead, if you must play this market, Joe Root is your man at 16/1. He has already said he expects to bowl a lot of overs. An outright win is beyond him but shared honours very much in-play.

Dickwella underrated

For once strike rate doesn't seem to be that important when it comes to finding a top bowler winner. With spinners set to bowl far more overs than seamers, it is obvious that they are likely to be more fancied.

Dilruwan Perera, who is a menace in home Tests, looks to be underrated. We have him clears favourite instead of Sportsbook's 5/2 joint-favourite with seamer Suranga Lakmal.

Perera has 23 wickets in first-innings of home Tests in the last three years, 12 more than the closest pacer, Lakmal. Perera's strike rate is 42 compared to Lakmal's 39. But Perera has bowled 161 overs to Lakmal's 71. Akila Dhanjaya is second on the wickets list with 13 but is not in the squad. We'll take Diruwan, so long as they bowl first in the match with weather around later on.

With the bat, Angelo Mathews will be fancied. But he is way down on the run lists at home in the first-innings in the last three years with 140 from seven. And way out in front is Dimuth Karunaratne, the skipper and opener. Karunaratne has been superb, averaging more than 70 and notching 465 runs. Not much to beat then at 11/4?

Well, not quite. Dinesh Chandimal, solid and organised, has played only once in that time. But in all conditions he has four wins in his last 14. That fourth win came against South Africa at the end of last year in the first Test. He missed the second through injury. The 6/1 looks toppy in the extreme from Sportsbook.

Niroshan Dickwella, the wicketkeeper-batsman who could blast something extraordinary or be back in the hutch after a couple of minutes, is also a threat. He has four wins in 24. The 7/1, like Chandimal's price, is cracking value. For the record, Chandimal has three wins in 21 so he is falling some way short of a wrong price for us to take advantage of.

Sri Lanka's stars on Cricket...Only Bettor

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