Hawkeye on Sri Lanka v England Second Test: Spin to win big

Dilruwan Perera
Perera is Mr Reliable

Ed Hawkins picks out an outstanding top bowler bet for the Sri Lanka v England second Test in Galle from early on Friday...

"As for his record on top bowler, Perera has won six times out right in Galle with two shared honours in his nine Tests there"

Perera a bet

On the face of it, Dilruwan Perera doesn't have the sort of record that makes him stand out as a top bowler contender. His 162 Test wickets have cost more than 35 runs apiece and his strike rate is two wicks below 70.

However, Dilruwan's career is all about what he manages to do on home surfaces. He wasn't involved in Sri Lanka's recent tour of South Africa, for example. And in the first Test against England in Galle he showed why he is such a dangerous performer in his backyard, claiming four victims.

When we filter Dilruwan's record to home Tests only, he is a menace. The average drops to 29 and the strike rate to 56.8. In Galle, his strike rate dips further to 45.9. He has taken 56 wickets there. That's 34% of his career haul.

As for his record on top bowler, Perera has won six times out right in Galle with two shared honours in his nine Tests there. It surprising, then, that Sportsbook have decided to boost his price from 5/2 to a massive 3/1.

His main threat is fellow spinner Lasith Embuldeniya. The slow left-armer has played only eight Tests so it is unfair to compare him to the vastly-experienced Dilruwan. Embuldeniya will probably be a fine bowler and he caused England plenty of problems in the first game. His strike rate of 83 at home, however, is more evidence that our pick should be shorter. Embuldeniya is 5/2.

Crawley a possible

Joe Root was a rare winner for his top England runscorer backers in the first match. He now has a 15% win rate, only 15 implied probability points off from where his price (9/4) should be.

With such a huge disparity you'd think there'd be value all over the shop. But there isn't. Only Zak Crawley fits the bill at 4/1 but we are concerned that a nine-Test study isn't quite long enough. The other standout is Dan Lawrence at a ridiculous 10/1.

A further worry about Crawley is his ability to play spin. Before this tour he proved adept against the turning ball. But spin on home pitches is not the same as facing the wily Perera on a raging burner with a hard ball in Sri Lanka.

For Sri Lanka, we have advised a wager already on Niroshan Dickwella at the same price on this week's Cricket...Only Bettor. We backed him for game one, splitting stakes with Dinesh Chandimal who copped at 6s. We won't be following him in for a back-to-back at 9/2.

England top bat wins/matches
Root 8/53
Buttler 3/31
Woakes 1/26
S Curran 2/20
Pope 4/13
Burns 3/21
Crawley 3/9
Sibley 0/13

England top bowl wins/matches
Woakes 1 5t/28
Anderson 9 6t/40
Broad 9 9t/49
Archer 2 t/11
S Curran 2 2t/20
Wood 2/9
Bess 2/8
Leach 0/7

Ton chance could be reduced

With the Galle pitch dry and dusty, runscoring could be tricky. So the 11/2 that Sportsbook offer about no century in the match catches the eye.

The surface has a history of crumbling - in the last seven Tests there have been 11 scores of 250 or fewer. However, we can't make out that the 11/2 is a wrong price on how often no ton is notched. In those seven Tests, only one recorded no salutes - Sri Lanka's 229-run win over Australia in 2016.

It's fine to stick hard and fast to the rules of betting only if the data says the percentage probability is out of line. But there's not much wrong with a little nibble if you take the view that this could be a much tougher batting surface than there's been at the venue for a while.

Back Dilruwan Perera top Sri Lanka bowler 3/1 (2pts)

Ed Hawkins P-L

2021: +11.28
2020: +5.91
2019: +37.25pts
2018: +23.53pts
2017: +12pts
2016: +18.1pts
2015: +38pts
2014: +31.5pts
2013: +25pts
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 & COB Best Bets year end

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