England should be backed to make fast start in damp Dambulla
Powerful openers are backed up by fluent Root and Morgan
Sky Sports Cricket, 5.30am Saturday
England's one-day team take some stopping these days but they were halted by a spectacular downpour in Dambulla, where Wednesday’s first ODI against Sri Lanka was abandoned after just 15 overs.
England had already moved smoothly to 92-2, with Joe Root (25 not out) and Eoin Morgan (14 not out) settling in, and they are 2-5 to beat a Lankan side who are in woeful 50-over form.
Dumped out of the Asia Cup after batting collapses against Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the hosts dropped senior batsman Angelo Mathews and face a tough task against an England team who are top of the ICC’s ODI rankings.
The weather could be the main danger to England once again, although there is a reserve day in case the forecast thunderstorms are persistent.
England's bowling attack should be competitive even in unfamiliar conditions but the main difference between the teams comes in the batting department where the favourites have far more power than Sri Lanka.
Openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy wasted little time getting stuck into Sri Lanka veteran Lasith Malinga, whose five wicketless overs went for 37 runs on Wednesday and even the dismissals of the top two failed to slow England down.
Root and Morgan, who shared an unbroken stand of 174 in the warm-up win in Colombo, looked in fine form and the 4-6 about England scoring more runs than Sri Lanka during the first 15 overs is well worth a bet.
The Lankans were outscored 71-59 and 67-58 in that market in their Asia Cup matches and their lack of a stable opening partnership has been a major factor in their ODI struggles.
The threat of rain puts a slight dampener on pre-match punts but a couple of lower-order batsmen are worth considering to top-score for Sri Lanka.
Thisara Perera has belted two fifties and a 49 in his last dozen ODIs while Dasun Shanaka is a better player than his record of one half-century in 11 innings suggests.
Shanaka smashed 65 off just 34 balls in a rain-reduced game against South Africa in August and made 81, 60 not out and 105 not out in consecutive matches for Kandy in the domestic Twenty20 competition later that month.
England to have higher score in first 15 overs
3pts 4-6 bet365
The teams try again in Dambulla, where Wednesday’s game was washed out, and the home side have lost their last seven completed ODIs at the venue.
Despite the monsoon weather, spin bowlers should pose a threat and Akila Dananjaya tempted opener Roy into a loose shot to dismiss him in the ninth over of the first ODI.
England picked three spinners – Liam Dawson, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid – on Wednesday, with Chris Woakes and Olly Stone leading the pace attack.
Veteran Malinga should keep his place for Sri Lanka despite taking some tap on Wednesday.
More thunderstorms are forecast both for the scheduled match day and for the reserve day so a disjointed contest could be in store.
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