Ed Hawkins previews the first of a three-match series, starting in Cardiff under lights, on Wednesday.
"If Sri Lanka bat first it could be grim. They are not fast scorers and sit between Vanuatu and the Czech Republic for batting strike rate in the last three years."
England v Sri Lanka
Wednesday 23 June 18.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
England in T20 action before the India Test series, the highlight of their summer? Why ever not? No wonder Jos Buttler put his head above the parapet this week to suggest the schedule is crazy.
Buttler returns to open the batting here with Jason Roy. But there are injury worries for England. Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow both have niggles. Liam Livingstone stands by. There is no Ben Stokes, either, despite him being fit enough to play for Durham in the Blast.
This leaves England with a headache because his all-round abilities balance the side. Livingstone could be used as a sixth bowling option. But they also have Tom Curran, David Willey and Liam Dawson available.
Possible XI Roy, Buttler, Malan, Bairstow, Livingstone, Morgan, Moeen, Woakes, S Curran, Rashid, Wood
Sri Lanka up against it
Sri Lanka have done well to get a team together. A pay dispute - when the Sri Lankan Cricket Board reduced wages - put the tour in doubt. However, senior players are missing.
There is no Dinesh Chandimal or Angelo Mathews for example. Instead they arrive with an exciting crop of young thrusters who are high on skill but low on confidence and experience.
Sri Lanka have been kicked from pillar to post in this format and their form has not been helped by constant chopping and changing in personnel. There are players to watch out for, however. Wanindu Hasaranga, the all-rounder, is a terrific performer, likewise middle-order hitter Dhananjaya de Silva. Dasun Shanaka is potentially explosive while Dushmantha Chameera has bowled at a decent lick.
They appear to have picked a squad of batters who are split between wanting to bat in the top three or perfect for a late hitting role at No 7.
Possible XI Gunathilaka, Nissanka, Avishka, Kusal Perera, Dickwella, Hasaranga, Udana, Akila, Sandakan, Chameera, Pradeep
The weather forecast - at the moment - is decent for Cardiff's Sophia Gardens. No rain expected. So we should be hopeful of the full quota. Batting first, 160 or more has been busted 12 times out of 20. There is no discernible toss bias in the last ten matches (a fifty-fifty split). England beat Pakistan at this ground in 2019, chasing 174. Eoin Morgan top scored.
England will expect to threaten close to 200 batting first. No team scores more quickly in the world in the last three years. Some decent numbers should be available on the exchange for 190 or more and 200 or more. We would expect England to take 40 or more off the last three overs so look out in-play for chunky bets.
If Sri Lanka bat first it could be grim. They are not fast scorers and sit between Vanuatu and the Czech Republic for batting strike rate in the last three years. They have busted 150 batting first four times in the last 11. We might be cheeky and look to lay 160 or more at around the 2.1011/10 mark.
Too many 'ifs' about tourists
This is a mismatch. England, serious contenders for the World T20 later this year, are no better than 1.3030/100. Sri Lanka are 4.10. Taking the latter price relies on heavy use of the word 'if'.
If Sri Lanka can buck the trend and make a fast start. If Sri Lanka can remove both Roy and Buttler cheaply. Look, you've got yourself a trade right there but it's a pure gamble.
Indeed, the game could be up if Sri Lanka chase. England's price could disappear very quickly indeed as they cut loose and Sri Lanka, who have one win in their last eight chases, could suffer a beating.
The time to bet Sri Lanka might be in game three when they have got used to conditions and England have checked out.
Roy is 5/2 favourite for top England bat and this is the sort of attack he likes to bully. Buttler has been boosted to 3/1. Once upon a time that was sort of price we'd be all over but his form has dipped.Bairstow is 4/1 and, if fit, could be an in-play bet. He is seeing it like a beachball.
For Sri Lanka, Pathun Nissanka is an emerging talent and Sportsbook go 4/1. That's chunky about a guy who has been opening the batting. Dhananjaya De Silva is also a fancy at 8s but you are likely to get double that in-play.
Read a deep data dive on how to play the tops markets here
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Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l