Galle Gladiators v Jaffna Stallions
Thursday 3 December 10.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Galle Gladiators are consistent. They have lost all three. And long may it continue as the punter ;loves nothing more than a bit of reliable mediocrity.
Last time out they went down to the Kandy Tuskers, who got their first win. The Gladiators' issue is with the ball, they have almost no control and teams are battering them at will. They conceded 196 against Tuskers and didn't give much hope in the chase.
Possible XI Gunathilaka, Zazai, Azam, Rajapaksa, Siriwardana, Afridi, Jayasuriya, Shiraz, Amir, Sandakan, Dhananjaya
Stallions three from three
Jaffna are the team to beat with three wins from three. They took down the Tuksers but were heavily reliant on Dhananyaja de Silva and Thisara Perera. Onkly one other made it into double figures for a score of 185 - not an easy number to defend given the high scores.
But Usman Shinwari claimed three for 17. His selection suggests Jaffna are really thinking about variations. His left-arm pace is crucial to their hopes of taking the title.
Possible XI Fernando, Bhanuka, de Silva, Moores, Shoaib Malik, Perera, PWH de Silva, PC de Silva, Shinwari, Lakmal, Olivier
Scores so far (most recent first, 1-2 denote match won by side batting first) read: 185-1/175-1/196-1/218-1/96-1(5overs)/195-1/175-2/219-t. It's a run fest at Hambantota, then. And a burgeoning toss bias, too, with only one chaser winning so far. The market is wise to big runs, though, so reckoning there is any value there is not quite on it. It could soon start to pay doing low-risk lays at skinny prices for 160 or more as the pitches become more worn.
Jaffna juicy in chase
A solid trading strategy has been betting the side batting first and booking profits at the break. Do we do the same here? Well, if Jafnna bat first we can expect them to dominate. But we could also take a risk on them in the chase because of that leaky Galle bowling. Jaffna are 1.705/7 already with Galle 2.407/5. If Jaffna are chasing we will look for even money.
Dambulla Vikings v Kandy Tuskers
Thursday 3 December 14.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Vikings benefitted from the toss bias against Colombo Kings to record their second win from three. They have also benefitted from the form of Dasun Shanaka, who has twice got them out of the mire with sensational knocks. They defended 179 with ease. Samit Patel and Anwar Ali, chalk and cheese in terms of spin and pace, are proving a formidable pairing.
Possible XI Dickwella, Stirling, Tharanga, Patel, Shanaka, A Perera, Anwar, A Tharanga, Pushpakumura, Rajitha, Colombage
Kandy were the pre-tournament favourites. They have lost three from four in a disappointing start. They only need to finish in the front four of five to qualify for the semi-finals, though, so it's hardly terminal.
Like most teams they need to bat first. In the chase against Jaffna last time out they folded hopelessly. There is hope the bowling is improving, though. In that game they had their moments in the field while the restricted Galle well in a chase.
Possible XI Gurbaz, M Perera, B Mendis, Taylor, P Mendis, Gunaratne, Naveen, Pradeep, Munaf.
A much of a muchness these two. So we lean on the toss bias, recognising that batting first is a big advantage. The match odds market makes Vikings 1.684/6 jollies, which is surprisingly short. This gives us room to get with Tuskers batting first at 2.001/1 when they take a cut. We will then look to lay at the 1.608/13 mark with big runs on the board.
The Big Past Preview Part I on Cricket...Only Bettor