Sri Lanka and New Zealand kick off their World Test Championship campaigns on Wednesday when the two sides meet in the first match of a two Test series in Galle. Given the short nature of this series there are 60pts on the line for victory which will give whoever wins the game the early lead in the competition.
Sri Lanka will be expected to be extremely competitive here but New Zealand have a wonderful record overseas and will be looking to use recent disappointments to fuel their fire for these two matches.
The doom and gloom that was around Sri Lankan cricket at the beginning of 2019 is starting to lift but their acid test might just come here. Sri Lanka won their last Test series in South Africa and then they went to the World Cup where they were expected to fail. Although they didn’t make the quarter finals, they secured wins over England and West Indies and were much more competitive than they were billed to be.
With the optimism beginning to rise under a captain who has shown he is capable of leading by example, the last thing Sri Lanka need to be doing here is getting overwhelmed or beaten easily. The old saying of Rome wasn’t built in a day is true and they shouldn’t be expected to be lights out straight away but if they continue their progress that is all anyone can really ask for.
It is a different kind of pressure for New Zealand. They are settled, established, full of top class cricketers and even though they are in conditions that are slightly alien to them, they are the ones expected to win this match and indeed the series. New Zealand don’t play many Test matches so each one that they do compete in under this World Test Championship umbrella they will be eager to come out on top in.
Although they are not of Asian descent, it is uncanny how competitive New Zealand tend to be in this part of the world and we shouldn’t expect anything different from them here. New Zealand have won their last five Test series worldwide and seven of their last eight so they are a very competent unit in this format of the game, and look rightful favourites to win both this match and the series as a whole.
Sri Lanka are set to recall Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews to their batting department but they will be without Dilruwan Perera who is out injured. Rangana Herath has retired now so Akil Dananjaya will be the main spinner.
New Zealand are looking to go into this opening match with three frontline spinners. They will be Mitchell Santner, Will Somerville and Ajaz Patel. Henry Nicholls and BJ Watling will strengthen the batting order.
I’m not going to go too mad in this series because it is so short and as always at this time of year we can never be sure when the rain will and won’t arrive. That throws a lot of markets up in the air and brings into play a fair bit of guesswork so I am only really wanting to focus on odds and lines that are in our favour and there is one bet that I like in that regard.
That is the performance line of the Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne, which looks very much on the low side to me at 66.5. He has a wonderful record on this ground, averaging almost 12 runs more on this ground than his career average. His last five innings here have been 97, 158*, 60, 4 and 26 so it is clearly a venue he enjoys batting at. New Zealand’s new ball bowlers aren’t likely to be as imposing on this ground as they can be in home conditions and even then he has a century and three 50s against the Kiwis. I think he’s a good bet to pick up 67pts with the bat and in the field.
WON – Back D.Karunaratne’s Performance – Over 66.5pts for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Betfair
Back him here: