England v Sri Lanka First ODI: Another heaven-sent betting opportunity

Cook, left, will lead England
Cook, left, will lead England

After tipping Sri Lanka to win the T20 on Tuesday, Ed Hawkins says the match odds market has it wrong again and that the tourists should be short favourites to win at The Oval on Thursday

"Sri Lanka are stonking value at 2.021/1 to make it seven wins in eight attempts at The Oval in all competitions."

Recommended bet
Sri Lanka at 2.021/1

England v Sri Lanka
Start time: 13.00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Alastair Cook returns to skipper the team as he is not involved in the Twenty20 side. James Anderson, a talisman with the ball, is also back. He will add skill and experience to a bowling attack which, despite defeat by Sri Lanka at The Oval on Tuesday, did not look too bad. Chris Jordan would have had good figures bar one bad over while Harry Gurney was extremely impressive with his variations. There is no spot for Alex Hales, though, which is confusing. Gary Ballance adds batting strength and Ian Bell oozes class. James Tredwell, one would think, has a tough job containing Sri Lanka's batsmen.

Sri Lanka
The big guns are back. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who have both retired from T20, return to bolster an impressive-looking squad. Lasith Malinga is the best death bowler in the world, Tillakaratne Dilshan remains a threat at the top of the order. They have powerful all-rounders in abundance, calling on Thisara Perera, Angelo Mathews, the captain, and Nuwan Kulasekara. The spin threat - and what a threat - comes from Sachithra Senanayake and Ajantha Mendis. Those two, given England's historic problems against spin, could well decide the series.

Series odds
We are falling over ourselves to back a superior Sri Lanka at 2.1411/10. Read the full series preview here

First-innings runs
The average in the last 10 ODI is 229. Surprised? You should be. The Oval has a reputation for being one of the best batting surfaces in the country. The average in the previous ten was 260. So it would appear it is not as good as it once was. Since June 2010 (12 games) there have been only four scores batting first of more than 250 and the last total which busted 300 was in 2007. The year before Sri Lanka made 319 against England. Caution is the watchword, then. Don't rest on old laurels and go big with bets of 270-plus.

Match odds
Sri Lanka are stonking value at 2.021/1 to make it seven wins in eight attempts at The Oval in all competitions. The wicket appears to suit them, offering bowlers little seam and swing but helping the spinners. England, who are on an atrocious run with 20 defeats in their last 26 in all competitions, are horrific value at 1.9210/11. There is no way they should be favourites for this game. England's win-loss ratio in the last two years against the top eight sides is 1.17. Sri Lanka's is 1.35. There is a gulf between these sides and it is not in favour of how the market suggests. And if you can't recognise that, then you are wasting your time betting.

Top England runscorer
No current England player has scored more runs at The Oval in ODI than Bell, who will share favourite status will Cook at around 4.003/1. But that's because he's been around the longest. Eoin Morgan, 6.005/1, averages 59 there in the last five years and Ravi Bopara, 9.008/1, 46. Bell's average of 30 looks weedy over the same study period. Joe Root, 6.005/1, in two matches, averages 58. 

Top Sri Lanka batsman
As one would expect, Jaywardene and Sangakkara have scored runs easily at this venue in the past. Jaywardene averages 57 and Sangakkara 55. They are different prices, though with Sangakkara expected to go off sub 4.003/1 and a strong chance that Jayawardene could be 4.507/2.

Recommended bet
Sri Lanka at 2.021/1

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