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Sri Lanka vs England 1st Test Predictions & Tips - In-form Karunaratne can go big for hosts

  • Sri Lanka vs England predictions for the 1st Test match on Thursday
  • The match will be played in Galle at 04:30 GMT
  • England will be without Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and perhaps Chris Woakes for this match
  • I am backing Jonny Bairstow to mark his return to the side with a big score
  • Full match preview and predictions
Dimuth Karunaratne
Dimuth Karunaratne on his way to 103 runs against South Africa in his last Test innings (Getty images)
Ralph Staniforth 14 Jan 2021
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Sri Lanka vs England Predictions

This should be a well contested match with Sri Lanka comfortable in home conditions. Given England are missing a few key players I can see this being a high scoring affair which could end in a draw after five days.

  • Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne scored 103 runs in his last Test innings.
  • England’s Jonny Bairstow scored 110 runs in his last Test match against Sri Lanka.
  • England’s Jos Buttler has scored 75 & 152 runs in his last 2 Test matches.
  • England have drawn their last 2 Test matches.

Head to Head

England have won seven of their last 13 Test matches against Sri Lanka. There have been four draws and two Sri Lanka victories.

England toured Sri Lanka in 2018 and won the series 3-0 with the last match ending in a 42-run win in Colombo. 

Sri Lanka Form

Sri Lanka have only just returned home from their 2-0 series defeat in South Africa. Given the challenges they faced in South Africa, Sri Lanka will be pretty proud of their efforts in the two-match series.

Injuries hit Sri Lanka hard but they fought well over the two matches. Their last Test ended in a 10 wicket defeat at the Wanderers.

Kusal Perera scored 60 in Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 157 runs and from there the visitors were always on the back foot. South Africa scored 302 before Dimuth Karunaratne scored a brilliant 103 runs in Sri Lanka’s second innings.

It looked like they could build a decent lead but the lower order failed to get going as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 211, leaving South Africa needing 67 runs for the win. The hosts chased the total without losing a wicket.

Sri Lanka Injuries & Team News

Sri Lanka had some injury concerns coming home from South Africa. Much of those will be mitigated by the fact that two spinners will be selected at home, opposed to the one that normally is.

Opening batsmen, Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera will be key to Sri Lanka’s chances in this series. Both scored some runs in South Africa and will want to continue that form.

Veteran Angelo Mathews returns to the squad which will be a massive boost to the hosts.

England Form

England were the first team to play Test cricket after the world went into lockdown in March 2020. They played two series’ against the West Indies and Pakistan on home soil and won both.

This will be their first Test series since drawing against Pakistan in August 2020 at the Rose Bowl.

Zak Crawley scored 267 and Jos Buttler 152 runs in 583 run first innings total. Rain unfortunately cost England in that Test after dismissing Pakistan for 273 runs and enforcing the follow-on.

Pakistan then managed to bat out 83 overs on 187-4 before the game was called off with no result possible.

England Injuries & Team News

In the sub-continent England’s team is likely to look a bit different. Moeen Ali has been ruled out of the series after testing positive for COVID-19.

Fast bowler Chris Woakes is also expected to miss the 1st Test after coming out of quarantine late. Ben Stokes will not participate in the series after a family bereavement. 

Dan Lawrence is expected to make his debut in the middle-order while England are likely to play two, if not three spinners.

Sri Lanka vs England FAQ

What is the Sri Lanka vs England best bet?

The best bet is for Dimuth Karunaratne to score over 25.5 runs in the first innings.

Where can I watch the Sri Lanka vs England live stream?

Our live streaming calendar shows you where to watch the Sri Lanka vs England live stream.



Sri Lanka will certainly be more comfortable at home and with England missing key players, I suspect this could end in a draw. Galle is generally a good batting wicket so expect Dimuth Karunaratne to produce the goods.

Best Bet: Karunaratne Over 25.5 Over/Under 1st Innings Runs @-120.48 at BetMGM - 4 Units
Value Bet: Bairstow 50+ Runs To Score 50+ 1st Innings Runs @190.00 at bet365 Sport NJ - 2 Units
Match Result Tip: Draw Result @200.00 at Borgata Sports - 1 Unit

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