England head into their series with Sri Lanka flying high. Eoin Morgan’s side beat a brilliant India team 2-1 in the one-day internationals in the English summer and are the current favourites to win the World Cup in England in 2019 at 11/4.
The ICC World Rankings have England as number one in the world with the hosting Sri Lankans down in eighth.
The rankings, as in most sports, are not exactly the most reliable thing, but it gives a rough indication of where these teams are. Sri Lanka are still a team in transition, while England are riding the crest of a wave post their white ball revolution.
Starting in Dambulla and ending in Colombo, the two teams will play five one-dayers over 13 October days. England have been destroying all challengers in the shortened form of the game, but have work to do on spinning tracks.
Last time they played in Sri Lanka, the tourists lost the seven-game series 5-2. This time around, England are the 1/2 favourites to win the series.
England easily saw off a Board XI in their only warm-up of the tour. Eoin Morgan and Joe Root got superb nineties, while Moeen Ali – fresh off a brilliant end to the summer – bowled a controlled 10 overs for 42 runs and three wickets.
Moeen has altered his action (he is keeping his bowling arm tucked in) and it has worked wonders. The off spinner is 19/20 to take more wickets in the series than Lakshan Sandakan. He’s 8/1 to be the series’ top bowler, which might be the best price of all.
Moeen starred with the ball on Blast Finals Day and caused the Indian batsmen all sorts of problems in the Test series. Sri Lanka’s batsmen had a torrid time in the Asia Cup and will struggle if Moeen can maintain the control he showed in the last few weeks.
Root was his usual self in the solitary warm-up. His 7/2 to be the top run scorer in the series is a solid price. He will be consistent, but Root could easily be superseded by one of England’s power hitters in this market.
Alex Hales at 6/1 looks very good value. An in-form Hales is hard to stop, he’s so destructive he could easily notch more than one century in the series.
Upul Tharanga has scored by far the most ODI runs over the last 12 months for the hosts. The opener isn’t great value at 8/1 to top score in the series but is worth backing at 3/1 to be Sri Lanka’s top batsman.
The Sri Lankan line-up has plenty to prove against England, picking a stand out performer is not easy. This, however, could be a career-making series for some of the less experienced players.
Thisara Perera is a destructive batsman and impactful bowler. He could be a difference maker for the hosts. His 11/1 price to be top bowler is good value considering his ODI record (33 wickets at 22.63) over the last 12 months.
As well as Moeen, his close friend and spin twin, Adil Rashid, is a good bet. Rashid is as short as 5/2 to be England’s top bowler. The leg spinner has taken double as many ODI wickets in the last year as any England quick bowler.
The seamers have been England’s down fall, but they can depend on Rashid and Moeen. One of the two will lead the way for England, Rashid is evidently the safer bet, even if a lot of his wickets are a result of Moeen’s controlled offies.
England are too short a price to back for the series at 1/2. The series score betting, though, provides some value. England to win 4-1 at 13/2 is the best bet of the lot.
The tourists are streets ahead of Sri Lanka right now, but it’s likely England underachieve with the bat at least once. If they wrap the series up quickly, we may also see Root, Ben Stokes and perhaps a couple of others rested.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*