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India v Sri Lanka First Test Betting: Could visitors swing another shock?

Kohli leads India
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Ed Hawkins previews the contest from Kolkata, which starts in the early hours of Thursday UK time, and suggests the vistors might have a squeak...

"If India bat first they are as good as 1-0 up. They have won nine out of their last nine ten Tests at home when doing so"

Recommended Bet
Lay the draw at [2.77] (1pt)

India v Sri Lanka
Thursday, 05:00
Live on Sky Sports Cricket


India

India haven't been beaten in any of their last seven series in all competitions and, on the face of it, a weak Sri Lanka team are unlikely to threaten that record. So perhaps to make it a bit more competitive, the home team have left out Hardik Pandya.

Pandya is a relative ingénue at Test level but he affords crucial balance, particularly on a wicket which should suit seam bowlers. It would be a major surprise if Indian picked both Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja on such a track.

That will leave Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami battling it out for two spots alongside Bhuv Kumar.

At the top of the order they also have a conundrum. India have used seven different openers in Test since the World Cup 2015. KL Rahul, Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan will be paired down.


Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka come into this series in good nick. They beat Pakistan, in the UAE, two zip. In was one of the most extraordinary results of the last few years. No team beats Pakistan there.

Otherwise Sri Lanka have been awful. Across all formats they have lost 17 matches since July, interrupted only by those two wins against Pakistan. And they have suffered some terrible beatings in that time, too.

At least they will be able to call on Angelo Mathews this time. He has returned from injury to bolster a batting line-up which, obviously, impressed in Pakistan. A batting line-up also including Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella is useful.

With the ball their strength is spin rather than pace. Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perrea took 28 wickets between them against Pakistan.


First-innings runs
There have been only six Tests in the last 11 years at Eden Gardens. The first-innings scores in those matches read: 316-234-316-637-296-616. India were responsible for both 600s and made a third in the second match innings in 2010 against South Africa. A green, grassy pitch is expected, just like for the last Test featuring New Zealand. The seam and swing bowlers were to the fore in a low-scoring contest which India won with ease.


Match odds
India are [1.70], Sri Lanka [19.0] and the draw [2.76]. That's a pretty big chunk of numbers between the home team and the visitors. And the immediate reaction is: how can we rationally reckon that Sri Lanka are value?

It's actually not too tricky, providing you accept that it's a major gamble. India can be sluggish in the first Test of a home series - they lost to Australia in February and also drew with England this time last year.

But the key here is the wicket. If it is a seam bowler's paradise, as reported, then the gap between the teams could be reduced. And that [20.0] could be halved pretty quickly if Sri Lanka get the ball in the right area.

It's a risk, though. Sri Lanka have a poor record in India. They have never won there and in ten defeats eights of them have ben by an innings.

On those grounds the odds seem justified. And, by the way, if India bat first they are as good as 1-0 up. They have won nine out of their last nine ten Tests at home when doing so.

The weather forecast is not too good. Light rain is expected on day one and there are chances of thunderstorms on the next three days. But that won't put off draw layers at the price.


Top India runscorer
Virat Kohli is [3.4], Pujara [3.65] and Dhawan [4.4]. Pujara top scored for India in that win over New Zealand. Ajinkya Rahane also notched a half-century. He is [5.8].


Top Sri Lanka runscorer
Karunaratne is Sri Lanka's top runscorer in the last two years with 1,590 at 38. Chandimal has a superior average, but not by much, so the [3.9] looks a little skinny. Could Mathews return with a bang? The [4.8] is tempting particularly if the top order is blown away by a moving ball.


Recommended Bet
Lay the draw at [2.6] (1pt)

Ed Hawkins P-L

2017: +23.99pts
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. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l

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