Sri Lanka slight favourites after England let Jayawardene off hook
Sri Lanka are marginal favourites to win the first Test with England at 13/8 after Mahela Jayawadene’s unbeaten century rescued them on the opening day in Galle.
Overall, the game is evenly poised, but having held the upper hand at 15-3, England will be disappointed to have allowed Sri Lanka to reach 289-8 for the close of play.
Jayawardene’s imperious 168 not out is the main reason for the recovery and James Anderson will be particularly disappointed after dropping the batsman just prior to his century.
However, with the par score for the pitch considered to be 372, England’s bowlers have put their team in a solid position and the main hope will be to take the remaining two wickets quickly on the morning of the second day.
Then the onus switches to England’s batsmen, who will be tasked with the challenge of securing a first-innings lead.
Top three Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott have all already registered centuries in Sri Lanka ahead of the Test and this shows they are in form.
Meanwhile, it also displays that they are capable of dealing with the intense heat and humidity that is expected to be a factor in the series.
England are 15/8 to win the first Test and this may represent big value given the lack of obvious threat in the home bowling attack.
Muttiah Muralitharan has retired and Lasith Malinga no longer plays Test matches, while the feeling is that there is no bowler selected that will pose the problems created by the likes of Saeed Ajmal in Pakistan.
Cook looks the obvious target to top score for England at 7/2, while Samit Patel is 10/1 in the same market to improve on a solid debut with the ball, where he took two wickets.