England’s victory over Sri Lanka in the first test was as comprehensive as it gets: inside three days, by a margin of an innings and 88 runs. When you factor in the amount of time lost to rain delays and bad light, the dominance of Alistair Cook’s side was absolute.
All of which makes finding value in the various markets difficult; the Three Lions are available as short as 3/10 to win the second test and a ridiculous 1/50 to win the series! More tempting is England to win the series by a 3-0 scoreline at 8/15….more on that later.
The Second Test Preview
So where are we as far as the second test from Durham’s Chester-le-Street ground is concerned? Well, England will be missing the injured Ben Stokes, and he will be gutted to miss out on his home test. His replacement, Chris Woakes, took 9-43 for Warwickshire in the County Championship the other day, so at least his country won’t be weakened by his absence.
Other than that England will be unchanged, while a further blow to Sri Lanka will be the loss of pace bowler Dushmantha Chameera to a back injury. He took 3-64 in his side’s sole effort at Headingley, and his ability to bowl at 85mph plus will be sorely missed by the tourists. Dhammika Prasad has also picked up a shoulder injury and will miss the second rubber, and Sri Lanka have opted to bring in a wicketkeeper/batsmen, Kusal Perera, as a replacement. Curiouser and curiouser….
The weather forecast for Durham for the five days from Friday onwards is cloudy but free of rain – bad news for the tourists. Jimmy Anderson will flourish in such conditions, as he did in Headingley for his ten-wicket match haul, and Sri Lanka are set to face another trial by swing; they were found wanting in the first test.
England don’t get to play tests at the Riverside Ground very often, and the last time they did so was in the Ashes of 2013. In a low-scoring contest (only one innings witnessed a score of 300+) it was Stuart Broad who won the day for his side, taking 6-50 in the second innings – and 11-121 in the match – to consign the Aussies to defeat. As such, Broad has to be worth a go at 5/2 to be England’s best bowler here.
From a batting perspective, Cook notched a half-century in that test against Australia in Durham, and while his sole effort of 16 against the Sri Lankans in the first test was nothing to write home about, he did look completely at ease before swatting an over-pitched delivery to Dinesh Chandimal. Given his fantastic start to 2016, we’re happy to give Captain Cook another go in the Top Batsman market at 7/2.
As For the Rest of the Series…..
Be under no illusions, England will win this series 3-0 as long as we don’t experience a week’s worth of rain at any point, and while the price of that at 8/15 won’t appeal to everyone it remains a fantastic investment.
There are two tests and a maximum of four innings per side left, so picking out a series top batsman is still a bit of a leap of faith. That said, Jonny Bairstow will take some catching; he’s 54 runs ahead of Alex Hales and 123 ahead of the rest. At 15/8, he too looks worthy of involvement.
From a Sri Lankan perspective, it could be a long old series for their willow-wielders. None of them showed any real resilience at Headingley, and while Kusal Mendis’ second innings 50 was entertaining, it was too little, too late. It may be left to the skipper, Angelo Mathews, to uphold respectability for his side at 11/4.