Sri Lanka v England 1st ODI starts Wednesday 10:00
Match-winner market – Neither side appeals
England play Sri Lanka in the 1st ODI on Wednesday morning. The first point to make is that the prices on the match odds market are about right. England are around the 1.4 mark with just about everyone while Sri Lanka’s price is somewhere between 2.7 and 3.2, depending on who you’re betting with.
Let’s cut to the chase. England are a far better ODI side than Sri Lanka when it comes to batting and fielding, no doubt about that. Bowling: well if it’s really spinning then Sri Lanka may have the edge here and that’s where the hosts’ best chance may well lie: preparing a proper ‘bunsen’, picking at least three spinners and consistently bowling in the right areas. We’ll have to wait and see.
So England are very justified favourites but their record in Sri Lanka is awful. Six wins out of 21 there over the years. That’s a win in just 28% of their matches on Sri Lankan soil so all of a sudden we start to think twice about piling into a 1.4 shot. Not that we’d think about smashing into short prices, anyway.
But are Sri Lanka all of a sudden a value bet as big outsiders? Well, a lot of that damage in the past was done by Sri Lankan sides containing the likes of Muralitharan, Sangakarra, Jayawardene, Jayasuriya and Vaas. All now retired.
Their current ODI side doesn’t have a single player who would get anywhere near a World XI. Heck, only one or two of them would even get into the England side at the moment. So with a weak-looking side and an awful record over the past couple of years- 30 losses in their past 40 games and a run of 12 consecutive defeats in 2017 – they can’t be trusted, either.
I’m not going to take a punt on the England top batsman market, either. The Top 4 in the batting are available at almost identical odds, have very similar records and if you’re going to play this market, you might as well just pick one at random and hope for the best because it’s hard to see where the value lies.
Sri Lanka Top Batsman – Perera and…Perera.
But it’s a different story on the top Sri Lanka batsman market, where as the title of this preview suggests, it’s about two Pereras.
So bad was their performance in the recent Asia Cup that it’s fair to say no-one is in form. But in Kusal Perera Sri Lanka have a player who ticks the main boxes for a top batsman in ODIs. He has experience under his belt (80 ODIs), has played England plenty of times in the past, bats in the Top 4, has solid long-term numbers and for those who consider this to be an actual advantage, is left handed.
But sometimes it’s not so much about numbers as it is mindset.
This is a man who will attack you from ball one and that could be a key advantage over other Sri Lankan players who might look to bat more sedately. You see, England are ODI bullies. When they’re batting they like to go after bowlers. When they’re bowling, they don’t like batsmen showing no fear against them. Look at how they fell apart when Virat Kohli was hitting them to all parts in the summer.
But ultimately it is of course about price. Is Kusal Perera value at the 4.5 that the likes of Bet365 are laying him at? No, but given what we said about him so far, he is at odds of 7.0, which is what Ladbrokes and Coral are offering on him. I can only assume they think he will bat lower than four (unlikely) or that it’s just a mistake in terms of how they priced him up. After all, with the long-serving linchpin Angelo Matthews currently out of the side and skipper Dinesh Chandimal just coming back from injury, he may not have much to beat.
But it may be worth having a saver on the other Perera, Thisara. This is a hard-hitting all-rounder who particularly likes to punish spin and who we expect to see batting at 6, 7 or 8.
If Sri Lanka bat first he’s unlikely to have much of a chance because someone from the top order should get to at least 70. But Sri Lankan batting collapses are as frequent these days as England ones in the 90s and a more likely scenario where he’d be in the game would be this: if England post a big score, Sri Lanka have to go for it from early on, lose wickets up front by being too aggressive and he comes in at 6 or 7 with a top score or 30-odd to beat.
Given what we’ve seen of them in the last year or so, it’s not that unlikely. Given what we’ve seen of Perera over the years, he may just need 30 or so balls to get to 50, particularly if he’s up against the spinners. At odds of 15, it’s worth having him onside as a saver.
1pt Back Kusal Perera to be Top Sri Lanka Batsman @ 7.0 with Ladbrokes/Coral.
0.5pts Back Thisara Perera to be Top Sri Lanka Batsman @ 15.0 with Ladbrokes/Paddypower/Betfair Sportsbook