Sri Lanka to pile pressure on Strauss with win in Colombo
If England were going to master the art of playing spin, it would have happened by now, so there’s every reason to back Sri Lanka at 15/8 to condemn Andrew Strauss’ side to a fifth successive Test defeat.
The fickle finger of form is now pointing firmly in Strauss’ direction, after a barren run of just one hundred in 48 Test innings.
Calls for him to stand down are surely premature, but he, just like the rest of England’s top-order, needs runs and needs them quickly.
Any batsman is vulnerable early on, but Strauss is consistently getting in and then finding a way to get out.
He has made in excess of 25 in five of his eight innings this winter and has only once failed to reach double figures. Strauss is 4/1 to be England’s top run scorer in the first innings at Colombo.
A dogged 52 in the first innings has briefly taken the heat off Ian Bell, but it will take a lot more than that to convince the selectors he’s worthy of retaining his place come the summer.
As for England’s line-up, Stuart Broad’s calf injury should pave the way for Steven Finn’s return to the side, while the versatile Tim Bresnan could also be recalled with Monty Panesar or Samit Patel likely to make way.
Elsewhere, Jonathan Trott’s century, though ultimately in vein, was an exhibition of the patience required in this part of the world.
Trott’s 112 came off 266 balls, just ten fewer than England faced in the entirety of their first innings.
As for the hosts, it’s Rangana Herath who did the damage in Galle, taking 12 wickets, half of which were lbw.
England don’t tend to learn their lesson, so expect Herath to have similar success in Colombo. The left-arm spinner is 6/4 to take most wickets in the first innings.