India stand on the brink of securing a unique place in cricketing history. If they can win the fifth and final ODI match against Sri Lanka on Sunday, they will secure back-to-back series whitewashes of the Lions.
The switch to batsman-friendly Colombo made very little difference in the fourth one-day international, in fact it seemed to spur India on yet further as they amassed a huge 375/5. In reply, the Sri Lankans could muster just 207 all out in some of the most forgiving conditions of the series so far.
So, can India book their place in the history books, or will Sri Lanka restore at least a smidgen of pride?
The bookmakers are in no doubt as to how this final match is going to go. India are in as short as 1.25 with Betfair, and those are the sort of odds they have commanded all series. Coming into this game on the back of a crushing 168-run win, you’d have to argue a price as stingy as that still represents value.
Winning matches is one thing, but the comprehensive nature of India’s dominance has been such that, even for the sake of balance, it is hard to make a case for Sri Lanka in any way. They aren’t scoring enough runs, with a top order that is hopelessly out of form, and their bowling attack has not performed as a unit – just decent individual performances here and there.
Perhaps the only grain of comfort for the Lions is that Virat Kohli has confirmed he will give his squad’s fringe players another chance in Colombo. Shardul Thakur made his international debut in the fourth ODI, while Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel got some game time.
But even that inexperienced trio took four wickets between them, so we simply have to conclude that India – at full strength or not – are just too good for their opponents.
Match Odds Summary: Sri Lanka 5.00 (bet365), India 1.25 (Betfair)
Picking any potential Sri Lankan top batsman is fraught with risk: none of them are performing well on a consistent basis.
The evergreen Angelo Mathews was their standout performer with the willow on Thursday, and he now tops the batting averages for his side in this series at an excellent 45.66 (Lahiru Thirimanne actually tops the averages, but he’s only played two games and 80 of his runs came in one game!).
So perhaps Mathews is worth another go at 5.00 with bet365. It’s a wager based solely on the premise he is more consistent than any of his teammates.
As far as Top Indian Batsman goes, it appears to be a straight shootout between Rohit Sharma and Kohli.
Sharma has crunched 286 runs in four innings at an average of 95.33 in this series so far, so his odds of 4.00 are tantalising. But Kohli is the best batsman on the planet, and he enters this final game on the back of a stunning century in the fourth ODI. His price of 3.75 with bet365 is a value play like no other.
Top Batsman Odds Summary
India: Kohli 3.75 (bet365), Dhawan 3.75 (bet365), Sharma 4.00 (bet365), Rahane 5.50 (bet365), Rahul 6.50 (bet365)
Sri Lanka: Dickwella 4.50 (bet365), Mendis 4.50 (bet365), Mathews 5.00 (bet365), Gunathilaka 5.00 (bet365), Tharanga 5.50 (bet365)
Other Side Bets
We had a suspicion that Colombo might serve up a high-scoring encounter, and judging by India’s first innings tally in the fourth ODI we were right.
There’s no reason to suggest a deviation from that theme even if the match is played on the same wicket as Thursday – there will simply be more turn for the spinners.
So the two standout side bets are based upon that premise: Akila Dananjaya to be Sri Lanka’s top bowler at 4.50 (bet365), and Eight or More Sixes to be struck at 1.83 (also bet365) – eleven were bludgeoned in the last encounter.