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Stuart Dalgleish 24th May 2011 - 16:04

England v Sri Lanka - six bets for the series

England v Sri Lanka Test series - Starts Thursday 11:00 live on Sky Sports 1

Before the Ashes, I gave you 10 reasons why England would win the series, and if you got involved in some of those bets then you'd have made a few quid, now I'll try pick out some value ahead of the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka.

Series correct score - 2-1 England at 13/2

England are big favourites for the series (4/11), but they don't always make it easy for themselves. Realistically, they should've beaten the Aussies 3-0 in the winter, but they are still prone to a cheap dismissal or two and that can lead to chances for the opposition to get on top.

The Sri Lankans will be looking at the Lord's Test for their chance to get on the scoreboard, it has not always been a happy hunting ground for England over the years and the tourists will see this match as a perfect opportunity to score big then put England's batsmen under pressure with spin at both ends.

England top series batsman - Eoin Morgan at 7/1

The Irish-born star got the nod over Ravi Bopara and he'll be desperate to prove the selectors right with their decision. There is no doubting that Morgan is a classy batsman, but you have to feel some sympathy for Bopara who, unlike Morgan, shunned the IPL to play County Championship in a bid to show his credentials, ultimately it was a huge score in the Lions game that persuaded the panel to pick Morgan.

He can handle spin well and has got some of his best scores against that sort of attack, he'll not be afraid of mixing up his shot selection and annoying the bowlers and should be able to score big at all three venues.

Sri Lanka top series batsman - Tillakaratne Dilshan at 7/2

The newly-appointed captain is coming off the back of a phenomenal World Cup where he scored 500 runs in just nine matches. The format might be different, but the result should still be the same for Dilshan, he'll be looking to score another couple of hundred runs in this series.

Much like Morgan for England, Dilshan will play all the shots in the book, and a lot that aren't. Some players flounder when they're made captain but I fully expect Dilshan to flourish, the only question mark would be if he can score more than Kumar Sangakkara (5/2) who matched him almost all the way in the World Cup and again will be his main rival for the SL top batsman award.

England top series bowler - Chris Tremlett at 4/1

I was tempted to go for Steven Finn (6/1) for that extra bit of value, but I think the prices are like this for a reason - Tremlett has taken Finn's place in the side now after a fantastic few performances in the Ashes.

The pair are quite similar in their actions and it is a tough call for the selectors as to who misses out, Finn did tire in the Ashes though and Tremlett seems to have perhaps a bit more fire to him so if he starts and performs straight away, his place is secure for the series.

Sri Lanka top series bowler - Farveez Maharoof at 10/1

This is maybe a bit of maverick selection as he's only just been called up to replace Nuwan Pradeep (8/1 but not expected to feature), but with injury doubts over their main pace bowler Dilhara Fernando (4/1) the current Lancashire man could get a major role in the side over the three Tests.

Maharoof hasn't played a Test in a few years, but he's already been getting himself used to the conditions in his stint with the Red Rose outfit and has taken a few wickets while also putting in a shift with the bat. With the other seamers having not much experience between them, Maharoof could be the best option for the tourists as an alternative to spin.

First England century in the series - Jonathan Trott at 5/1

Admittedly, over the winter you couldn't really fault England's openers, but, every now and then Andrew Strauss (3/1) or Alastair Cook (7/2) will give their wicket away cheaply (usually Strauss). When that happens, Mr Reliable Jonathan Trott gets to the crease and he's normally there for a while.

His action is not the prettiest, his gardening of the wicket is a source of major annoyance for most bowlers, but he certainly knows how to score runs. The man is just a run-machine and if he does get in before either opener has got going then he'll have every chance of scoring the first three-figure score.



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