Sri Lanka and India meet again in the early hours of Thursday morning. It could be a mismatch which most punters could be forgiven for struggling to rouse themselves for. But for value seekers it could be well worth forcing those eyelids open.
Those odds are understandable. In the first Test Sri Lanka were hammered by 304 runs. India batted first, posted 600 and then nonchalantly strolled to an easy win.
Sure, there is a gulf between the teams in terms of ability. But what is key in Test cricket, as we often write about here, is the toss. The coin flip which decides who bats first and who bowls first.
Now, in Asia it is widely recognised that batting first is the best thing to do. This is because the pitch takes tremendous wear over three innings so by the time it comes to the final dig, batting is notoriously hard. The wicket is worn and dusty and crumbly. Spinners make hay.
For this match at Colombo’s SSC the toss is absolutely crucial. Here’s a stat which will knock off your socks: no team has won bowling first there in the last ten years. They have suffered five defeats and six stalemates.
In short this means India are a terrible, terrible bet at the odds if they happen to have to bowl first. And Sri Lanka are a much smarter bet than the previous scorecard would have us believe.
If a match bet is not for you, we can still use this knowledge of a wearing pitch to find value on the top bowler markets. As we said, spin bowlers dominate here in ideal conditions. The top four wicket-takers in the last ten years are all spin bowlers. So why the hell would we bet a pace bowler?
Lankan Rangana Herath has taken more wickets than anyone on this ground during our study period. So it makes sense to get with him even though the +200 odds with Matchbook seem short. Statistics suggest he should be odds-on.
For India, Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja go head to head. Ashwin is the +200 jolly with Bet365 but we will side with Jadeja just because in the last few months he has shown he is capable of bridging the gap. Plus his odds are much more attractive at +300 with Betway.