The first Test of this Pakistan v Sri Lanka series was a strange one. It ended up being ruined by rain to the extent that Sri Lanka declared on 308/6, which they would never have normally done, and we only got to see Pakistan bat at all pretty late on in the match.
And despite so little cricket being played, we still got to witness three centuries. There was a battling tonne from Sri Lanka all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva, who remained unbeaten when they declared. And two further ones from Pakistan’s batsmen. Abid Ali became the only man in history to score centuries in both his ODI and Test debuts, while Babar Azam added 102 of his own. Both remained unbeaten.
There was a strange bit of team selection long before all of that. Yasir Shah, our satta for man of the match, didn’t play at all. New Chairman of selectors and team coach Misbah Ul-Haq felt that a combination of the wicket not taking spin and Shah’s recent struggles meant it was best to go in with a four-man pace attack, rather than playing a specialist spinner. I guess we’ll never know whether it was the right call because there was so little play. It will be interesting to see if leg-spinner Shah plays in this one.
Team News: Pakistan
Shah could be the only change here for the hosts and if he is to come in, it won’t be an easy decision in terms of who to leave out. All of their frontline bowlers took at least one wicket, though Usman Shinwari, on Test debut, was a little expensive, going at 3.6 an over.
Shan Masood got a duck but he’s been in decent form of late and one failure isn’t enough for Misbah to start thinking about changes at the top of the order.
Team News: Sri Lanka
The man who took the wicket of Masood- Kasun Rajitha- won’t be taking any more. He’s been ruled out with injury after damaging his left hamstring.
Lahiru Kumara and Vishwa Fernando are fighting for his spot, unless Sri Lanka decide to go with another spinner. They’re already missing their most experienced pace bowler in Suranga Lakmal, who contracted dengue before the Series started.
Venue for Pakistan v Sri Lanka 1st Test: Karachi
Just like with Rawalpindi in the First Test, it’s hard to know what to make of the ground because it’s been so long since international cricket has been played there. But for the record, Pakistan didn’t win either of their last two there, drawing against Sri Lanka in 2009 and losing to South Africa in 2007. They did however win their four matches in Karachi prior to those.
Match odds for Pakistan v Sri Lanka
Time for some cricket betting free tips and let’s start by looking at the match winner market. Pakistan have shortened to 1.57 on Bet365 from a price of 1.83, which is what they were to win the First Test.
Of course, that match didn’t give us much of a clue as to what might happen here but the price about the hosts looks a bit short. Favourites, yes. But with Pakistan, you just never know which side will turn up. You can get 4.5 on the draw or 5.0 on Sri Lanka. Or you can keep both the Lanka win and draw onside on the Double Chance market, which is 2.25, also with Bet365.
Sri Lanka Top Batsman (First innings)
The last time Sri Lanka played in Karachi, there were double-centuries for their numbers four and five respectively, suggesting those are good places to bat.
Well, for our money Angelo Matthews is the best batsman in Sri Lanka’s side anyway so the fact he bats at four is just an added bonus. He’s the most experienced member of the side and though he missed out in the First Test somewhat, scoring just 31, he has all the tools to get a big score here: technique, temperament, the ability to play both spin and pace bowling and of course the experience of having played so much Test cricket.
Skipper Dimuth Kanuratne deserves respect as the 3.75 favourite and Kusal Mendis has all the shots. But it’s Matthews who is the smart satta, at 4.75 with Betway.
First Innings Lead
The second of our cricket betting tips is on the ‘first innings lead’ market.
As ever, the toss will be crucial and if it goes Sri Lanka’s way, they’ll have a great shot at posting something decent if they bat first. If they do and Pakistan are in the field for two days or so, fatigue may start to play a part and affect the concentration levels of their batsmen when they finally come out to bat. Given that a coin toss is 50/50 and that you can get 2.5 about Sri Lanka having a first innings lead, that looks decent value.
Recommended bets for Pakistan v Sri Lanka:
Back Angelo Matthews to be Sri Lanka first innings top batsman @ 4.75 with Betway
Back Sri Lanka on first innings lead market @ 2.5 with Betway.