Mahela Jayawardene takes over the Sri Lankan captaincy for the second time and his first challenge is to take on the out-of-sorts world champions. The value lies with Sri Lanka, says Betfair’s Richard O’Hagan.
The return of the CB Series has been greeted with delight in some quarters and dismay in others. The delight is because it brings back that quintessentially Australian concept: the three team, one-day tournament. The dismay is because two of the teams are India and Sri Lanka, sides whose stock in world cricket has plummeted since they met in the World Cup final just under a year ago. The good news, though, is that this means that there are plenty of value bets to be had when the two sides meet, as they do tomorrow in Perth.
For Sri Lanka it is a case of out with the old and in with the… well, old. Tillakaratne Dilshan’s disastrous year as captain has come to a close and he has been replaced by Mahela Jayawardene, who resigned the captaincy three years ago. Coming on the back of two consecutive series defeats in the one-day format, including last month’s 3-2 defeat to South Africa, they will be hoping that the change of leader – and of coach, with Graham Ford replacing Geoff Marsh – will bring a change of fortune. Despite all of this, the side will have a pretty familiar look, with Upal Tharanga and Dilshan at the top of the order and a bowling attack hugely reliant upon Lasith Malinga.
India came a poor second to Australia in a rain-affected opening match of the series. However, they rested Virender Sehwag for that game and he is likely to return at the expense of Suresh Raina. There will be pressure to perform on Ravindra Jadeja, who was the most expensive player sold in the IPL auction over the weekend and needs to justify that price here in this beleaguered team every bit as much as he will need to once that tournament begins.
Venue and Conditions
Perth has a reputation as a fast and bouncy track, although it has been less so in recent years. That is not likely to be so much of a factor in a game between these two sides, neither of whom (Malinga aside) possess a bowler of any pace to speak of. What may be more significant is the weather, which will be typically hot but with the humidity increasing as the day goes on and the Fremantle Doctor blowing gently all day. This could favour the swing bowlers in the way that it did when Mitchell Johnson demolished England in the Ashes Test 14 months ago.
India have taken a beating in Australia so far. It has been a long and hard trip for them in which they have been thrashed in a Test series, had their captain banned for one match due to a slow over rate and lived in the shadow of Sachin Tendulkar’s elusive hundredth hundred for so long that even the Indian press’ enthusiasm for that story has seemed to be waning.
By contrast, Sri Lanka have had a rest since returning from South Africa (albeit a short one) and can boast a two game winning streak. Admittedly those two wins came when the one-day series was lost anyway and their hosts were experimenting with their side, but both results came as they chased down stiff targets and it is therefore hard to look further than them to take this game, at generous odds of 2.44.
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