Sri Lanka to be Cook-ed in the Rose Bowl?
England v Sri Lanka - Third Test
So far in the series we've had 2 rain affected Tests and this looks to be no different as the forecast for the Rose Bowl is riddled with rain and the clouds seem to be gathering. As expected the draw price has tumbled down to just 8/11 as several sessions are expected to be lost.
When the players stroll out on Thursday morning the Rose Bowl will hosting its first ever test match and in the process becoming just the 10th ground in England and Wales with Test match status.
The Sri Lankans are looking to win the Test to avoid a series defeat and have had a big break ahead of the third test, unfortunately for them though the break is Captain Dilshan's thumb and has ruled him out of the match and potentially some of the limited over's matches afterwards. In his absence there will be a lot of pressure on his replacement Kumar Sangakkara, who relinquished the captaincy much to his own relief after the World Cup. Without Dilshan the top of the order looks significantly weaker even and the Sri Lankan batsmen will have to be picking up the runs for them to be successful as their English counterparts have had their bowlers' number so far.
In the England camp things look much happier and settled with every player seeming to be contributing. James Anderson is set to return to lead the bowling attack, most likely at the expense of the unfortunate Steven Finn. The entire top and middle order have contributed throughout the series, with the exception of Strauss, none more so than Alastair Cook who has 335 runs at an average of 111.66 - carrying on from where he left of in the Ashes.
The form would suggest that if the rain stops away for long enough for England to claim victory and take the series 2-0, a huge boost to their ambitions of being the number 1 ranked test team. I expect England to pile on the runs, led by the superbly inform Cook, against the toothless Sri Lankan attack. The only things that can stop England winning are prolonged rain or a dogged Sri Lankan innings.
Best bets for the match:
England @ 13/10. The draw looks to have come in a little too much for my liking and with enough time England should be victorious.
Cook - first innings 50 @ 5/4. He's been the pick of England's batsman stretching back to the end of last summer and the Sri Lankan's seem clueless as how to bowl to him. A century is also a very tempting 9/2 shot.
Anderson - first innings wickets - over 2.5 @ 5/6. Jimmy may be returning from a side strain but has been bowling beautifully before that. His last 10 innings have seen him take 50 wickets, including 2 "Michelle" five-for's. When there is some play it is most likely to be under the cloud giving him the perfect conditions to swing the ball.