Sri Lanka and India meet for the third and final time in their Test series at Pallekelle on Saturday. And the poor hosts could be forgiven for stepping into the breach with trepidation. They have been hammered twice so far.
Indeed, such has been the ferocity of the beating that the Sri Lanka captain, Rangana Herath, has been “rested” for this match. That’s code for “get him out of the firing line quick, before he has a meltdown”.
India won game one by 304 runs and then game two by an innings and 53 runs. These are monumental thrashings. India have made 600 or more twice while Sri Lanka have posted more than 300 only once.
So what hope do they have in Pallekelle? Not much according to the layers. The hosts are +1000 with Bet365. That is incredibly stingy and we were expecting prices in the teens. The draw is +250 with Skybook. So surely there must be some room in India’s price?
Is there weather around which has caused the layers to get skittish about India? Not really. The forecast for days one and two is pretty clear with the odd threat of rain. And beyond that – although early days – the skies are just a bit cloudy.
What about a toss bias? Well, that’s not that relevant anyway. But there isn’t one. There have been only five Tests at this ground and three have ended in stalemate.
Besides, there was a significant bias for the side batting first in the previous game and the layers didn’t account for that because Sri Lanka were bigger odds.
It is true that India will be without Ravi Jadeja, recently installed as the ICC’s No 1 all-rounder. He has been suspended for a discipline issue. But the absence of one player does not normally have such an impact.
Besides, they still have the excellent Ravi Ashwin while Jadeja’s replacement, Kuldeep Yadav, is a fine player himself in the making. Perhaps there is a fear that India will not be off, reckoning that their work there is done.
Still, we never like to bet on what might, or might not, be happening between the ears of a player or inside the walls of a dressing room. We stick to facts.
And the facts are pretty stark. It is clear that India should be shorter than they are given the beatings they have meted out against a Sri Lanka XI shorn of some of its most exciting and experienced players.
The absence of Herath, who has been their best bowler for some time, is a hammer blow and should merely widen the gulf.