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Stuart Dalgleish 1st Jun 2011 - 21:42

Toothless Sri Lanka set for another defeat

England v Sri Lanka - Friday 11:00 live on Sky Sports 1

Unbelievably, England (8/13) have the chance to wrap up the series as they face Sri Lanka (6/1, draw 2/1) in the 2nd Test at Lord's.

It was a fantastic effort from Andrew Strauss (7/2 top England batsman) and his men in the 1st Test considering they lost around a day and a half to the Cardiff rain, credit must also go to the captain for declaring the innings straight after Ian Bell (11/2) scored his century (11/2 to get another ton).

Declarations are something that I've been critical of with Strauss before, I recall the series in West Indies where England lost 1-0 because of one abysmal innings in the 1st Test, the rest of the series they largely dominated but waiting too long to declare cost them what should have been a 2-1 series win.

But kudos to the skipper, since that series things have just got better and better for England, and the match in Wales further demonstrated how much of a different proposition England are nowadays, it is only a matter of time, in my opinion, until they climb to the top of the Test rankings.

A win in the capital would certainly help their cause to be the best in the business, but it won't be easy now without strike bowler Jimmy Anderson; the Lancashire ace has a side strain and will be a big miss for the remainder of this series but should hopefully be back for India later in the summer.

Jade Dernbach (4/1 top England bowler) will join up with the squad in his absence, but I would imagine Steven Finn (7/2) is likely to play with the other two pacemen and Graeme Swann (9/4) in a four-man attack.

It would certainly make sense to play Finn as he has plenty of experience on this track, the giant bowler, along with Stuart Broad (10/3) and Chris Tremlett (7/2), should be able to bang it in from a height and really get the Sri Lanka batsmen under pressure, if they think the pitch won't offer much bounce though Dernbach could get the nod.

That will be the only change for England, and to be honest you couldn't really drop any of the team at the minute with how they've been playing over the last year or so.

The top three are as good as any in world cricket, and with Sri Lanka's weak bowling attack you'd have to think that Strauss, Alastair Cook (7/2 top Eng bat) and Jonathan Trott (3/1) will again pile on the runs.

The spread for England's first innings total is 399.5 (5/6 under/over), and on current form it's a no-brainer they go over that.

With the players reaching three figures with such regularity too we have a special on how many centurions they will have in their first innings; one is the even money favourite, but if you fancy a repeat of England's treble treble-figure getters from Cardiff then there's an attractive looking 16/1 on offer for that eventuality.

Worth a few quid I'm sure, but I'd probably look to back the individual players; Trott is 7/2, Strauss 4/1 and Cook 9/2 to score a hundred.

Sri Lanka, of course, will be hoping to somehow switch off the England run-machine, but will need a serious improvement if they're to do so.

We knew there bowling department would be seriously weakened with the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga, but they offered nothing in Wales.

Injuries to Nuwan Pradeep for the series, and Dilhara Fernando (7/2 top SL bowler) for the first Test didn't help matters, but you'd still hope for a much better showing than that.

Fernando should return for this match, and his experience could be helpful in support for Ajantha Mendis (4/1), who struggled to get any turn in Wales, perhaps if the match would've had more days play he could've enjoyed the same results that Swann did.

I'm not sure they'll make wholesale changes to their batting line-up, despite the disastrous second innings; Kumar Sangakkara (7/2 top SL bat), Mahele Jayawardene (7/2) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (4/1) are all top class batsmen, and they'll show it in this series, they just need to make sure it's sooner rather than later or the series will be over before it's really begun.



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