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Kandy could give England fast start

The serious stuff begins on Saturday when Sri Lanka and England square up for the first Test in Kandy, with bet365 making the home side favourites at 11/10.

But England, after a surprise win in their warm-up game, could be a big price at 7/2.

Click here to bet on Sri Lanka v England at bet365 The draw has been cut to 6/4 but interestingly, only five of the 20 Tests to have been played at the Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy have failed to produce a result.

Sri Lanka have won six and lost nine, but two of them were to Australia.

They have, though, failed to beat England in two Tests on the ground - losing the first one and drawing the last, so it's perhaps not as clearcut as some would like to make out.

Sri Lanka have sheer class in the form of Muttiah Muralitharan and one of the world's most in-form batsmen in Kumar Sangakkara, but England have resilience and Kevin Pietersen, one of the world's very best.

At this late stage, with very little bowling under his belt, I doubt that England will risk the wayward Steve Harmison for the first Test but they will hope that James Anderson recovers from an ankle problem in time to play as the last thing England will want is to have an under-strength bowling attack on what are traditionally slow pitches.

In Kandy, though, runs may not be that easy to come by as, if you ignore two Tests involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, a total of 400 has been posted only this ground only twice this century - once by Sri Lanka and once by Australia.

There is traditionally a bit more pace and bounce in the pitch than elsewhere in Sri Lanka and if England are to stand a chance of winning this series, I think they have to win here.

Sri Lanka were mauled by Australia in their last outing and though there is no shame in that, they are nothing special, so England will fancy their chances, making the 7/2 a price perhaps worth taking.

Sangakkara is the obvious favourite to top-score for his side in the first innings, having smashed 1430 runs in his past 10 Tests at an average of 119, including six centuries, two of them doubles.

That makes 3/1 a decent price.

Behind him, captain mehal Jayawardene is 10/3, with Sanath Jayasuriya 9/2 and Upul Tharanga 5/1.

Michael Vandort is 11/2 and Chamara Silva 7/1.

For England, Kevin Pietersen tops the billing at 3/1.

Captain Michael Vaughan and opener Alastair Cook are both 4/1, Ian Bell is 9/2 and Paul Collingwood, who should love the pitches here, is 5/1.

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