England’s tour of Sri Lanka gets underway on Wednesday, with the first of five ODI matches.
Preparation is advanced for Eoin Morgan’s side ahead of next year’s World Cup – and the number one ranked side have a chance to lay down another marker to the rest of the competition.
Our cricket betting expert has looked ahead to the series, and the best bets.
Spin it to win it in dusty conditions
Spin has long been England’s Achilles’ Heel in all formats of the game – but this is an England team unlike any other in their ODI history.
On their last visit to Sri Lanka in 2014, the Three Lions were torn apart by Sri Lanka’s slow bowlers, losing the seven-game series 5-2.
The subsequent World Cup humiliation a few months later was a turning point in English ODI fortunes, with the usual template ripped up under captain Morgan – which has provoked an incredible rise, to the point that England are world number one, and favourites for next year’s trophy.
England have strength across the board – but their spin twins Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid should come to the fore in the likely spin-friendly conditions in Sri Lanka.
The pair have taken 61 ODI wickets between them this year, and can trouble the hosts throughout.
Rashid has 36 wickets from his 19 matches this year, and I think the 11/2 for him to be the top series bowler with Grosvenorsport.com looks a great bet.
Sri Lanka in recent disarray
This is not a great era of Sri Lankan cricket – understandable after the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have retired in recent years.
Sri Lanka have failed to win their last nine ODI series – with a 2-0 win over Ireland in 2016 the last time they claimed a series victory.
The scapegoat has been captain Angelo Mathews, cast aside for Dinesh Chandimal, who has the unenviable job of inspiring a low on confidence side against the world’s best team.
While Sri Lanka will have conditions in their favour, it should be noted that they haven’t won at home since beating the West Indies in 2015, a run that includes a humiliating defeat to Zimbabwe last year.
Sri Lanka are 2/1 to win the series, but I would leave that price well alone.
Root the main man for England
Instead, I would back a comfortable win for England. Their price of 1/2 won’t give good returns, but I like the look of a 4-1 series win, which is available at 3/1.
Joe Root has been in fine form with the bat this year, and he has always scored well in Asia.
He’s a well-priced 7/2 as top series batsman.