Ed Hawkins previews the one-off T20 from RPS Colombo on Saturday and suggests there could be a shock...
"It is child’s play, then, that we have to take on England, particularly if the toss bias goes against them."
Sri Lanka v England
Saturday 27 October 14:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Sri Lanka confident
Sri Lanka will have been buoyed by their terrific performance in the final one-day international. They inflicted a record defeat on England after posting 366. England managed 132 for nine in reply.
Why hadn't they done this earlier? Well, it was not for the want of trying (they might also argue that in rain-interrupted games they could have come back strongly late on). The difference was that their middle-order clicked and built on the fast start their front three had given them. Then it was all about scoreboard pressure and bowling with discipline.
Kusal Mendis cracked a 30-ball fifty so will be ready for another blitz, likewise Niroshan Dickwella who hit 95 from 97 balls. Dinesh Chandimal also found rapid-scoring form at the last. It bodes well.
Lasith Malinga could return to the T20 side to unsettle England with death-over yorkers while left-arm and right-arm bowler, Kamindu Mendis could get a bowl.
Denly could come in
England were criticised by coach, Trevor Bayliss, and captain Eoin Morgan, for their shoddy work in the field and inability to bowl to a plan in Colombo. They have the chance to put things right here.
It will be pretty much the same group of players bar some tinkering. The most notable could be the dropping of Joe Root with Joe Denly expected to come in to the middle order. Jason Roy, Jos Buttler and Alex Hales form a front three with a one-track mind: attack.
Chris Jordan has flown in especially for this one game - let's hope the ECB are managing their carbon footprint - and is certain to play. Chris Woakes and Olly Stone have niggles so Liam Plunkett and Tom Curran will be given new-ball duties.
Better to chase
In 35 T20 internationals at the RPS, Colombo 18 have been won by the side fielding first. Nothing to get excited about then. However, in the last five years chasing has proved a walk in the park. It's 11 wins from 15. The scores in the last five read: 98-166-159-176-152. The wicket looked flat and true in the last ODI, though this will not be the same surface.
Rain and toss bias reduced gulf
England are [1.55] and Sri Lanka are [2.78]. That is a poor price about an England team which has lost nine of its last 15 matches. We suspect they have been priced up on what they can do in 50-over cricket rather than 20.
The weather forecast is also poor, which raises the possibility of ten-over shootout. Anything could happen in that kind of game.
It is child's play, then, that we have to take on England, particularly if the toss bias goes against them. Sri Lanka in a chase will be an excellent value bet at [2.5]. Sure, their record is poor as well and they are rated below their opponents but they seemed to have found their mojo.
Perera and Shanaka value
Dickwella and Mendis will be all the rage for top Sri Lanka bat at 13/5 and 7/2, particularly as Kusal Perera (also listed at 7/2) has not recovered from injury. Chandimal top scored in the last match at the venue. He gets a 9/2 quote from Sportsbook. If rain lops off overs, Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka could well be moved up the order. They are 10/1 and 13/2 respectively.
It is hard to look past that ferocious front three, particularly with rain around, for top England bat. Buttler is 5/2 with Betfair Sportsbook for top England bat with Roy 10/3 and Hales 7/2. Still, Morgan is surely overpriced at 6s. He should bat at No 4 and his form in the ODIs was terrific. It was no coincidence England were thrashed in Colombo with him rested.
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. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back Sri Lanka battng second at [2.5] or bigger (2pts)