Hawk Eye on Sri Lanka v England Third Test: Lakmal has to be shorted

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Ed Hawkins analyses the Sri Lanka captain's career and unearths bets of sound value for the third Test in Colombo from Friday...

"Considering Lakmal bowled only four overs in the second innings and he was Sri Lanka's fifth bowler, to say the quote is on the high side is an understatement"

Spin has been the dominating force in the Sri Lanka-England Test series. In Pallekele, where England won to take a two-Test lead, 38 wickets fell to spinners. In the series, only seven wickets out of 73 have not gone to twirlers.

The most 'successful' pacer has been Suranga Lakmal, who will once again captain Sri Lanka. He has four wickets. Ben Stokes, Sam Curran and James Anderson have one apiece.

Indeed, Anderson's workload has been so limited that they have taken him out of action, preferring to keep him fresh and give Stuart Broad some competitive action. There might not be much to enjoy - Anderson bowled only 19 overs in the second Test, five in the second innings.

Spinners to again dominate

We expect a smilar spin-heavy contest for game three, as discussed in our match preview.

It is no surprise, therefore, that the front three in the betting for top England bowler in the first-innings are all spinners. Moeen Ali at 9/4, Jack Leach at 5/2 and Adil Rashid at 11/4. The front four in the betting for Sri Lanka are all spinners. Dilruwan Perera at 11/10, Akila Danajanya, Lakshan Sandakan (both 11/4) and Mandila Pushpakumara at 7/2.

For game two at Pallekele we had a nice 3/1 winner on Perera in the same market. Just how big a price that was is now clear. The 11/10 could not be described as value and Sandakan and Pushpakumara both have numbers and records which suggest a bet on either is smart. Dananjaya will not play because he has been reported for a suspect bowling action.

There are other better bets to be had, though. It could pay off to take the rather surprising opportunity to get against a seamer. In this case Lakmal.

Betfair Sportsbook have offered a wager on his performance quote and his first-innings wickets. The wiry skipper is 5/6 to go over/under 70.7 points (one point per run, 10 per catch, 20 per wicket) and 5/6 to go over/under 1.5 wickets. Given how little Lakmal could be bowling at the Sinhalese Sports Club it is tempting to bet both.

Lakmal is averaging 62 points per game in the series, largely thanks to some unlikely runs - 44 of them so far. That make-up is pretty much bang on for his career. He averages 63 points per match over 51 Tests. In home Tests only he has an average make-up of 45 per match (19 Tests).

Considering Lakmal bowled only four overs in the second innings and he was Sri Lanka's fifth bowler, to say the quote is on the high side is an understatement.

As for the wickets, Lakmal average 1.7 wicket per first-innings over his career. At home, that figure drops to 1.4. To be more precise he has taken two wickets or more eight times in 18 first-innings at home. That's some leap to a 5/6 chance.

Back to his best

Joe Root's return to form is welcome. His century in the second-innings was as good as an example of Test batsmanship as you are likely to see.

The Yorkshireman gets an 11/4 quote to be top England runscorer in the first-innings, 11/8 to score a fifty in the same and 4/1 for a ton.

He is a smidgen of value for top bat. But we're talking decimal points here. With 11.4 a [3.75] chance, his true chances are recorded as [3.69]. Not much in it but perhaps enough to convince you that it's a wager. We have consistently said that, technically, he is England's best batsman in these conditions.


Hawk-Eye P-L

2018 - points p-l: +1.54 (78 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)

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