Alastair Cook will lead England out as captain at The Oval on Tuesday but the opener has a real job leading his side to victory.
For some reason, I’m guessing through home advantage and patriotic money, England have been installed as the 4/6 favourites to win but Sri Lanka are the World Cup runners up and punters should take plenty of the 6/5 for Sri Lanka to win.
England have won just four of their 14 one-day internationals this year and were thumped 6-1 by Australia earlier in the year.
Sri Lanka have played 17 ODI’s in England and have won seven, including all five of the matches in most recent series involving England and Sri Lanka in 2006.
Sri Lanka are a huge 11/8 to win the five-match ODI series with England and on the basis of the World Cup form, Saturday’s Twenty20 game, and Sri Lanka’s form in their 10 ODI’s this year (they’ve won eight of them), they have to be the best bet.
England are still unsure what their best ODI side is and the appointment of Alastair Cook as captain could backfire dramatically.
Cook is an incredible Test player but is yet to convince everyone that he can score quickly enough in ODIs and in a series in which England will have to be aggressive, Cook could prove to be the weak link.
We’re likely to see Craig Kieswetter open alongside Cook with Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara following down the order.
The bowling line-up remains a mystery with only Graeme Swann certain of a place in the line-up and James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach, Samit Patel and Chris Woakes all in line for a starting spot.
Tillakaratne Dilshan looks likely to win the fitness race and the Sri Lankan captain will have a huge influence on a game it’s difficult to see England winning.