Sri Lanka v England 3rd ODI Betting: England's best chance of success awaits

Finn and England could prosper with Jayawardene out
Finn and England could prosper with Jayawardene out

Ed Hawkins says a pace-friendly wicket and a Sri Lanka side minus Mahela Jayawardene gives the tourists a sniff on Wednesday morning...

"With Jaywardene out and the pitch looking suitable this represents a great chance to get off the mark. If England are not backable here at these odds, they're not backable anywhere"

Back England to Win @ 2.77/4

Sri Lanka v England
Start time, 09.00, Wednesday
TV: live on Sky Sports

Sri Lanka

The hosts are sitting pretty with a 2-0 lead and last time out they barely needed to break sweat. An eight-wicket victory was inspired by spin and the cool heads of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene

However, they will be without Jayawardene for this contest. He has been left out for 'personal reasons'. In his absence Thilina Kandamby or Ashan Priyanjan could come in. They average 30 and 26 respectively. 
That leaves rather a big hole in Sri Lanka's batting. They are heavily reliant on Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Tillkaratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews. England will be absolutely delighted.


Steven Finn returned to the England side in place of Ben Stokes and although his six overs brought only one wicket and a rate of 5.83, it would be harsh to drop a bowler when the batsmen were at fault.

England's total of 185 was pathetic and they may make changes to strengthen the batting. They have few options, however.

Opener Alex Hales looks an unlikely beneficiary as he can only displace the skipper, Alastair Cook, or the in-form Moeen Ali. James Taylor could replace Ian Bell or Eoin Morgan who, despite his class, looks vulnerable with a highest score of 32 in his last eight innings. More likely is Harry Gurney making way for an all-rounder like Stokes or Chris Jordan.

First-innings runs

The first-innings average in 13 completed ODI (all since 2011) at Hambantota's Mahinda Rajapaksa stadium is 256. That suggests the wicket is not too hot to bat on but it's not the case. Rain-affected games have brought that average down. When there is no rain involved in the first dig, the average is 295. That's from nine matches and 300 or more has been breached five times. 

Sri Lanka will be confident of making it five - if the rain stays away - although we can't say the same about England. Of their last 17 first-innings in Asia (excluding minnow contests), they've failed to go past 275 in 13 of them.

Match odds

So, how many pivotal players can Sri Lanka afford to lose before we start to believe in the opposition. They are already without Lasith Malinga and minus Jayawardene, there may not be many takers of the 1.574/7.

With Malinga and Jaywardene in the team they have a win percentage of 56%. They have only played 11 ODI without the pair and six of those were against sides outside the top eight. There were three defeats - to India (twice) and Zimbabwe.

The wicket is the most important factor. Will it spin? England have been dominated by turn and with another six of their batsmen falling to spinners in Colombo they will be hoping for something different.

They might just get it. Pacemen have done well here and there are only two spinners in the top 12 wicket-takers. England are a much better side if they can get assistance from the wicket.

Does that make them value at 2.77/4. Well, with Jaywardene out and the pitch looking suitable this represents a great chance to get off the mark. Put it another way, if they're not backable here at these odds, they're not backable anywhere.

The weather forecast is pretty good. There could be thunderstorm in the morning but the afternoon is clear. There is a reserve day for this fixture.

Top Sri Lanka runscorer

A good hunting ground for Mathews and Thisara Perera, who both his impressive half-centuries last time out at this venue. Indeed, Mathews has top scored on his last three visits. Mathews should be about 5.59/2 for honours yet he is available at 6.25/1. Fill your boots. Dilshan and Sangakkara are no better than 4.47/2 and 4.3100/30 respectively.

Top England runscorer

Early doors there was 6.05/1 available about Cook top scoring. Obviously if that price crops up again it's too big about an opening batsman, no matter what you think of the captain's form. Currently he is 5.79/2. If it's not a tacky surface like we saw in Colombo, Moeen is taken to go well again. He is 4.77/2. Joe Root looks to be in reasonable nick and may be worth a nibble at 6.25/1.

Recommended Bets
Back England to Win @ 2.77/4
Back A Mathews top Sri Lanka bat @ 6.25/1

Ed Hawkins P/L

2014: +351.60

2013: +250.80 (ROI 25%)

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