England dominated Sri Lanka in the one-day internationals earlier this winter and scooped a 3-1 series win but they have an almighty challenge on their hands when the two sides pit their wits against each other in the opening test of the three-match series which starts tomorrow in Galle.
Our cricket expert gives you his best bets to look out for ahead of the action.
England need to answer Test critics
England cruised through the limited overs series, but a tougher test side lies in wait for Joe Root’s side.
There’s still question marks over England in this format and it remains to be seen what happens at the top of the order with Alastair Cook having brought his outstanding international career to an end in the summer.
Rory Burns looks to have big boots to fill and he will not have it easy on a tough, spinning wicket away from home, but will look to transfer his impressive county form with Surrey onto the international stage.
England are 7/2 to open the series with victory.
Weather to have an impact
There has been plenty of talk about the decision for England to tour Sri Lanka at this time of the year, with the one-day series also being heavily affected by inclement weather.
Despite all that there have been results in Sri Lanka’s last 21 Tests on home soil and many of them have also had the weather to contend with as well.
England’s batting line-up does have its weaknesses, as seen in the summer, and with an abundance of spin options at their disposal including Rangana Herath, the Sri Lankans could cause the Three Lions plenty of problems.
Sri Lanka are 5/2 to win the Test, while the draw can be backed at 4/5.
Herath to end on a high
I already mentioned Herath’s ability earlier, but it is his final ever Test match as well and it is hard to see him not ending on a high.
The wicket at Galle always spins, but the hosts could make it spin even more than usual if you take his retirement into the equation.
It is hard to not see him take plenty of wickets over the course of the five days and I advise backing Herath as Sri Lanka’s top wicket taker at 11/4.
It would be a fitting finale to see him end with the man of the match award as well and he can be backed at 4/1 to pick up that accolade.
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