The first game of a three-match T20 series between England and Sri Lanka gets underway on Wednesday, with the hosts strong favourites to come out on top.
Eoin Morgan’s men are currently top of the world rankings and go into the opening T20 match of the summer having won 10 of their last 16 T20 internationals. In contrast, Sri Lanka will head to Cardiff with confidence at a low ebb following just one win in their last 10 T20 matches.
England have won four of the last five T20 meetings between the sides and are available at
5/4 to seal a 3-0 series whitewash over the tourists.
The hosts though are not only preparing for the T20 World Cup later this year – for which they are
4/1 to win – but they have individual players who also have a point to prove to the selectors.
Batsmen Could Stake a Claim for Test Chance
Poor batting displays in the recent home Test series defeat to New Zealand have left the England selectors scratching their heads over top-order selections in the five-day format.
Several of the batsmen in the T20 squad have played at Test level and good performances in limited-overs formats could see them get the chance again in upcoming Test series.
One person that comes into that equation is Jonny Bairstow, who has been in sparkling form for Yorkshire in the T20 Blast – smashing 112 in a recent win over Worcestershire and has also racked up innings of 82, 67 and 34 in this season’s tournament.
The only concern is regarding an ankle injury that the 31-year-old picked up in his century knock for Yorkshire, although medical scans have revealed no ligament damage. Bairstow can be backed at
13/2 to be named Man of the Match in Wednesday’s opener.
Another top-order player looking to stake his claim for another Test chance will be Dawid Malan – who is currently the top-ranked T20 batsman in the world.
7/2 to be England’s top runscorer on Wednesday, has scored a combined 302 runs in his last seven T20 innings for England – averaging 50.15.
Door Open for Curran Brothers
With Jofra Archer missing through injury and Ben Stokes continuing his comeback with Durham, England’s bowlers will have a chance to stake their claim for a place in the squad for India in October.
Sam Curran is one that has been in and out of the limited-overs plans in recent times and this looks like a good opportunity to deliver on the big stage.
The Surrey all-rounder has claimed 11 wickets in 13 international T20 matches and is currently in the top 15 bowlers in this season’s Vitality Blast.
The 23-year-old is yet to play a home international T20 match and is
4/1 to be England’s top bowler in the first encounter with Sri Lanka.
His older brother Tom is also in the squad and he is another out to prove his worth and looking to add to his tally of 26 international T20 wickets.
Sri Lanka’s main bowling threat is likely to come from their spin stars, particularly Lakshan Sandakan.
The left-arm wrist spinner has claimed 10 wickets in his last five T20 internationals and recent performances have seen him move up into the top-10 ranked T20 bowlers in the world.
Sandakan, who had some success against England in the Test arena, is
10/3 to be the tourists’ top bowler in the first T20 clash.
*All odds correct at time of writing