It's a must-win game for the tourists in Pallekele on Wednesday, but Ed Hawkins predicts another slide to Sri Lanka's army of spinners
"When you consider Sri Lanka were 1.645/8 in game one and have won three times out of four since, it looks value still."
Sri Lanka v England
Start time: 09:00 GMT
TV: live on Sky Sports 2
It was all too easy for Sri Lanka in the fourth ODI and they will be looking to confirm a series win as soon as possible. Their six-wicket win was far easier than the two balls remaining suggested. Only once did it look as though they were in a contest - when England were 170 for three with James Taylor going well - and it was spin and their old masters which made it such a cruise.
Of the 34 wickets Sri Lanka's bowlers have taken in the series, 23 have been to spinners, and Tillakaratne Dilshan, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath and Jeevan Mendis should be able to set up Mahela Jaywardene and Kumar Sangakkara as the batting heroes again.
It is all a bit too straightforward for Sri Lanka, though. So simple that they are probably harming themselves. As a warm-up for the World Cup they are learning nothing as they won't be able to rely on spin in Australia and New Zealand.
Alastair Cook should return after Alex Hales failed to put pressure on the captain for his place. A golden duck for Hales was a shame and he has hardly covered himself in glory, running out Moeen Ali at a key time in the previous match.
Cook's absence did England a huge favour. Taylor's superb 90 means that they could have found a player to fill the tricky No 3 slot. They are yet to replace Jonathan Trott in that role and Taylor could be the man.
If that selection was good, the decision to leave out James Tredwell at a turning RPS was baffling. He must return for another spinning surface and Ben Stokes, who is having a torrid time, should make way. His economy rate for the series is 10.62 and he is averaging 11 with the bat.
The first innings average at Pallekele in first digs not rain affected is 267 (ten from 13). Five times in that period 275 or more has been breached. There have been some reasonably low scores in the last three matches. South Africa managed 223 and 238 last year and Sri Lanka, against the Saffers, 267 in July. In 13 of their last 18 first-innings in Asia against top eight sides England have not busted 275.
The big question is will it spin? A look at the top wicket-takers at Pallekele doesn't scream 'raging turner'. Only Ajantha Mendis and Tillakaratne Dilshan make the top eight.
But two matches South Africa played against Sri Lanka at the venue in July 2013 and one in the same month this year, suggest England are in trouble. The Proteas got bogged down terribly in all three and 16 of their 26 bowler-taken wickets went to spinners.
So it could be the same old sorry story for England. We wrote last time there was no evidence they had solved their travails against spin and, obviously, that remains the case.
There is, however, some reluctance on the market to shorten Sri Lanka, which seems strange. They remain at 1.618/13. When you consider they were 1.645/8 in game one and have won three times out of four since, it looks value still.
There is no toss bias to speak of and although there is rain forecast for the start of the match and another interruption later in the evening, this one does have a reserve day.
Top Sri Lanka Batsman
Some interesting ground form to digest. Dilshan, who has outscored everyone, loves this ground and has 768 runs in 11 innings at an average of 96. He has scored an incredible five centuries in 11 innings. He is likely to go off not bigger than 4.57/2. Lahiru Thirimanne, a 7.06/1 chance, averages 90. But Kumar Sangakkara and Mahlea Jaywardene do not fare so well, both averaging 25.
Top England Batsman
England have played only T20 at this ground and there is nothing to write home about from those two (they won against New Zealand and lost to Sri Lanka) in 2012. Taylor will be well backed at around 5.04/1. Ali, England's most impressive bat, is around 4.57/2. Eoin Morgan's return to form was welcome and he could be worth following at more than 6.511/2.
Back Sri Lanka at 1.618/13
Back Dilshan as top Sri Lanka batsman at 4.47/2
Ed Hawkins P/L
2013: +250.80 (ROI 25%)
To £10 level stakes, based only on available prices
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