Cast your minds back to 2018 and England’s last visit to Sri Lanka.
COVID-19 was just a semblance of letters and numbers, and England were only testing positive for destructiveness.
England romped to a 3-0 victory over a month of combat, but a lot has changed since then.
England’s bowlers are aging and their batting line-up has severe cracks in it.
Jofra Archer, Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, and Ben Stokes are all missing from this series and the tourists will be forced to re-call previously dropped players.
Sri Lanka are in a similar state of limbo, but have the like of Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis fit and firing in the middle order.
This first test could prove a tall order for England.
Check out our top Odds Picks for this first test match in Sri Lanka, as well as a pick for the correct score in the series.
Our Top Odds Pick – Sri Lanka to beat England – 9/5 at Paddy Power
Sri Lanka are far from what they used to be but are beginning to re-build following the departures of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan over the past seven years.
The most promising sign is coming from their opening batting partnership, with Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera finding 50s and 100s in their recent test loss to South Africa.
Their bowling attack looks strong, as well.
Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal will be in line to take the most wickets in the opener, with England’s batting prone to middle-order collapses.
Joe Root is adamant that England are “as ready as they can be”, but that doesn’t fill us with too much confidence.
Our Extra Pick – Kusal Mendis to score a 50 in the match – Evens at Bet365
Sri Lanka have the momentum of recently finishing their test series with South Africa, and Kusal Mendis should have his eye in.
The 25-year-old averages 35 for his country and has eleven 50s to his name as well as seven 100s.
Let’s ignore the fact that he went for two ducks against South Africa – he’s too good to keep down and should find joy off of England’s bowling.
Our Long Shot – Sri Lanka to win the Test Series 2-0 – 8/1 at BetVictor
Now, forgive our lack of patriotism over at Odds Manager, but there is simply too much value in a 2-0 series whitewash for the hosts.
The conditions are going to suit Sri Lanka over the two test matches and there are simply too many variables coming out of the England camp to back them with any authority.
Spin should win in Galle and there will be lots of pressure on Dom Bess and Jack Leach to make the balls do back-flips.
Please note that all odds are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.