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England hope to fare better in Hambantota than Colombo humiliation

| 03.12.2014

The ODI series moves to Hambantota as Sri Lanka secured a 2-0 series lead over England, with a commanding victory at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo.

Their last encounter was reduced to 45 overs a side due to earlier rain and the margin of victory was by 8 wickets. England limped to a meagre 185 all out from 43 overs, which experienced stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene (77 not out) and Kumar Sangakkara (67 not out) knocked off with ease with 10.4 overs left in the game.

More pressure has fallen on captain Alastair Cook to resign in time for a suitable replacement to gain experience before the World Cup.

Former England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham believes it’s time Cook’s ODI tenure came to an end. “The captain (Cook) has to resign,” said Botham. “I would make [Eoin] Morgan captain because I think that’s just what he needs – I think he thinks a bit more out of the box.”

Cook has not scored an international century in 55 international innings in both tests and ODIs, but Coral have him at 9/2 to score some much needed runs.

Fellow Essex teammate Ravi Bopara carried on his good form, as he continues to enjoy his return to international cricket, scoring a valiant 65 not out in the first ODI.

All-rounder Bopara was England’s best batsman last time out with 51 at Colombom but his fielding improved during his absence from the squad and his medium bowling is always a useful tool to have. Bopara is 6/1 to carry on his form here by being top scorer again.

One player who will be hoping to get his chance is James Taylor. If selected, then the Nottinghamshire star is 6/1 to top score.

While some have pointed out Taylor’s small stature is a major disadvantage, his record during the domestic Royal London One-Day cup for Nottinghamshire was outstanding. Scoring three hundreds and averaging a mammoth 88.80 at a strike rate of 96.52, Taylor has got all the talent that the England selectors are searching for.

Due to the batsmen’s collective failure, the bowlers were never in the game. However, Steven Finn returned from injury to record figures of 1-35 from 6 overs.

That may not sound overly impressive, but Finn took the early wicket of the dangerous Kushal Perera to make the Sri Lankans a little nervous. The Middlesex quick used his extreme height to cause Perera problems, and he eventually miscued a pull straight to Ravi Bopara at square leg.

It’s a happy return for Finn, as he appears to have eradicated his no-ball problem which made him “unselectable” last year. Coral are backing Finn to wreak more havoc on the Sri Lankan batsmen by being best England bowler at 7/2.

England will need to recover quickly as they can’t afford to go 3-0 down in a 7 match series. Sri Lanka are looking dangerous, but do have some weaknesses which the tourists can exploit if they execute their plans correctly.

Coral have England at 8/5 to get back to winning ways in Hambantota.



Peter Kelly