Malinga's return has been crucial

Sri Lanka Counting On Experience In Champions Trophy

Sri Lanka will have to rely on their ageing talent to help them compete in the ICC Champions Trophy.

The Lions have been exposed by the retirements of two of the greats of the game – Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Both men were elite talents for many years, but brought a close to their international careers after the 2015 World Cup.

Frustratingly for their side – the duo still remain at the peak of their powers, performing on the English county circuit, although they will only be spectators for the 50-over competition.

Angelo Mathews has been handed the task of taking the team forward, but even his ability with bat and ball will struggle to paper over the cracks appearing in his outfit.

Two years ago at the World Cup, Sri Lanka trounced Scotland in their clash, but their regression since then was evident as Kyle Coetzer and Matthew Cross smashed centuries to guide the minnows to a comfortable seven-wicket win in their warm-up match.

The Lions will be hopeful that their star talent with the ball Lasith Malinga can find his best form to lead a bowling attack short on firepower and without the presence of a quality spinner.

Sri Lanka last won the tournament in 2002, and the odds will be stacked against them triumphing this time around in the competition. We’ll now break down the betting odds for the Mathews’ men in the ICC Champions Trophy.

Batting

Mendis will be key for the Lions

One of the few young players that has shown promise for the Lions is Kusal Mendis. The 22-year-old flashed his talent during his side’s tour of England last year, scoring two half-centuries in the series.

He has a decent average of 36.73 which will only improve as he gains further experience at international level. Mendis has shown diversity in his play to combat all types of bowling attacks.

The 22-year-old has proved his quality by adapting to the seaming conditions of England to the out-and-out pace of Australia’s line-up along with the turning the tracks of the sub-continent.

As a result he should have no problems against the variety of bowling units posed by Group B, while he will have ample opportunity to rack up the runs in his position at number three.

Mendis’ recent form has been impressive, notching his first ODI century against Bangladesh in March, while he also scored a half-century in his last outing. Therefore backing the 22-year-old to lead the way for the Lions at +350   with SkyBet is a solid bet to take.

Without Jayawardene and Sangakkara, Sri Lanka will be looking for the experience of their captain to steady their line-up. Mendis alleviated some of the pressure on Mathews, but he will still need support down the order, with the 30-year-old’s big hitting coming into play.

He has been consistent throughout his career, although he has only one century to his name. Therefore he will need to up the rate of his scoring at the crease, but he has fared well in English conditions, scoring three 50s in ODIs on his side’s last tour of the country.

Bowling

Malinga's return has been crucial

Sri Lanka will look to Malinga to provide inspiration with the ball, having been their talisman over the last decade with his unusual action giving batsmen torrid times over the years.

Injuries almost forced the bowler to retire last year, but he has managed to overcome his issues taking a hat-trick on his return in a T20 contest against Bangladesh last month.

The 33-year-old’s experience will be vital for the Lions, with 191 ODI appearances under his belt. He has taken 291 wickets at an impressive average of 27.77, which highlights his quality with the ball.

Malinga’s speciality is bowling at the death due to his propensity for being able to send down exceptional yorkers that batsmen cannot thrive on late in the innings. His strike rate of 31.6 is outstanding, attaining wickets almost every five overs.

As a result, he will be the man that Mathews will turn to in key moments looking for wickets or to keep runs off the board. Therefore backing Malinga at +350   with Betfred to lead the way for the Lions is the best punt to take for the Lions.

Nuwan Kulasekara could provide support and even challenge Malinga due to his exploits at the top of the innings. The 34-year-old has the experience and the guile to cause difficulties for opening batsmen should he find his rhythm in the early stages.

His style of bowling should suit English conditions and he may able to get seam movement that he needs to unsettle opposing sides.

He has been struggling for form of late, especially in South Africa where he was carved around the park in two of the three matches, with an improvement needed to aid his side’s surge for the semis.

Chances?

Sri Lanka face a tough time in their bid to emerge from Group B, with India and South Africa present. The Lions have struggled for form in their recent series, only beating struggling nations since the 2015 World Cup.

When Mathews’ men have been faced with quality oppositions they’ve suffered heavy defeats, including a 3-0 loss to England last year and a 5-0 hammering at the hands of the Proteas.

Sri Lanka showed glimpses of form against Bangladesh and the return of Malinga should help boost a potential charge into the semi-finals. However, Mathews’s men will know that they will have to be flawless in their pursuit of reaching the last four for the second tournament on the bounce.

Therefore caution should be taken when backing them at +800   with William Hill to win Group B, with the pursuit of value in mind in taking the punt. Their price to win the entire tournament may also intrigue at +3300   with SportingBet.

Tips Summary

Sri Lanka To Win ICC Champions Trophy
June 1st – June 18th 2017
Odds: +3300

Sri Lanka To Win ICC Champions Trophy Group B
June 1st – June 18th 2017
Odds: +800

Lasith Malinga To Be Sri Lanka’s Top Bowler
June 1st – June 18th 2017
Odds: +350

Kusal Mendis To Be Sri Lanka’s Top Batsman
June 1st – June 18th 2017
Odds: +350

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