Hawk Eye on South Africa v Sri Lanka Second Test: Can Kusal do it again?
Ed Hawkins asks whether the Sri Lankan hero can be relied upon for runs in PE from Thursday...
"His form coming into the series was unconvincing to say the least. Indeed, it is arguable that he was approaching the last chance saloon as a Test player"
Where's the value on Lanka runs?
Kusal Perera's unbeaten 153 in the fourth innings at Durban to down [1.01] shots South Africa has been called epic and one of the greatest knocks in Test history. Yet perhaps what was most surprising was that Kusal managed to hang around for so long.
His form coming into the series was unconvincing to say the least. Indeed, it is arguable that he was approaching the last chance saloon as a Test player. At 28, Kusal has bided his time before making a mark (indelible, true) on the game.
Before his first-innings fifty, Kusal had not half-saluted since 62 against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2016. His maiden Test century had arrived in the previous game. Before Durban he had managed only four scores of 50 or more and, not including not outs, he averaged just 26.
Not surprisingly, Betfair Sportsbook make Kusal favourite for top Sri Lankan runscorer. Is that fair? Well, in the last two years Kusal has copped once (that's right, at Durban) in five attempts. Now he's a 10/3 chance.
There is, of course, a tendency to hype a player who has just delivered such a feat. After all, why would a layer take a chance of a price when they know he will be all the rage.
Still, it is questionable that Kusal should be as short. Just remind yourself of that average. A counter point might be that he has little to beat. There is no Angelo Mathews or Upul Tharanga. Dinesh Chandimal, the former skipper, was dropped for this series much to our regret.
In the last two years he had copped seven times out of 19. Without Chandimal, then, it's up for grabs. Next best on that tally list is Dimuth Karunaratne, who has four wins in 23. But the 7/2 cannot be considered value on that record.
The only smidge of a rick we can find is on Niroshan Dickwella's number. He has a 0.4% edge on two-year form at 8/1.
Rabada could be tasty
The last time South Africa played a Test at Port Elizabeth they gave Australia a six-wicket beating. Kagiso Rabada was the architect with 11 wickets in the match.
With that ground form on his side, it is tempting to reckon he is the value for top South Africa bowler in the first-innings. He is rated as second-favourite behind Dale Steyn, who is 11/4, at 3/1.
On two-year form we have the two the other way round. Rabada has copped five times in 22 (not to mention four dead heats), Steyn once in seven with one shared honours. Rabada, then, is only a few clicks out of value range. Yet on career form he should be 3/1.
Steyn is insistent that he is a better bowler than ever. He might be right. On career form he has a 30% hit rate. It's just that in the last couple of years he's just not been winning enough for those odds to be worth taking. The major threat to Rabada is Duanne Olivier who has three wins in eight Tests. Sure, we worry about the study period but 4/1 looks big.
2019 - points p-l: +20.77 (28 points staked)
2018 - points p-l: +9.86 (89 points staked)
2017 - points p-l: +5.29 (26 points staked)