The home side has been vastly superior in all exchanges so far, but the visitor is at its best in the shortest format
West Indies will look to avoid a whitewash in its tour of Sri Lanka when it faces the host in a two-match Twenty20 International series, the first of which will be played in Pallekele on Monday (November 9).
West Indies has so far impressed in patches, but Sri Lanka has been the better side consistently, and that is reflected in the results. West Indies is yet to win a competitive match so far in the tour, and its only success came in the one-day tour match against a Board President’s XI.
The home side swept the two-match Test series 2-0, winning by an innings and six runs in the first Test in Galle, and then by 72 runs in Colombo. Then, in the rain-affected three-match One-Day International series, West Indies was swept away 3-0, the latest of its defeats coming in Pallekele on Saturday, thanks largely to another poor batting effort. Marlon Samuels scored a typically explosive unbeaten century, but the rest of the top and middle order scored in single digits, meaning Samuels, with his 95-ball 110, contributed more than half of the West Indies total of 206 for 9. The Sri Lankan innings was a study in contrast. There was no one player launching an assault. Rather, it put together mini partnerships for each wicket to eventually win by 19 runs on the D-L Method, with Kusal Perera’s 47-ball 50 the highest score of the innings.
West Indies has traditionally been a strong outfit in the T20 format, and will be confident of coming away with something to cheer about. The changes in personnel will likely make it a far bigger threat than it has been so far in the series, given that proven T20 campaigners in Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo have been included in the squad.
Sammy will captain the side but will be without the services of Samuel Badree, the legspinner, who was ruled out with fever. Devendra Bishoo was called up in his place, but West Indies’ primary spin threat will be Sunil Narine. Despite remodeling his action, Narine has shown that he still possesses some of his old nip, returning 3 for 21 in the first ODI. Thereafter, he picked up just a wicket more, but he is at home in the T20 format, and will be looking to put his stamp on the series.
While West Indies will be shored up with experienced campaigners, the Sri Lankans will be fuelled by the exuberance of youth. Rookies such as Binura Fernando, the medium pacer, and Jeffrey Vandersay, the leg-spinner, were included in its squad along with Shehan Jayasuriya, the all-rounder. Dinesh Chandimal and Thisara Perera were also in the side that will be led by Lasith Malinga, making for a unit possessing a fine mixture of youth and experience.
Sri Lanka lost its last T20I series 2-0 at home to Pakistan, and though it might consider itself favourite in the upcoming series, West Indies has an agenda of its own – to avoid another clean sweep. It could, therefore, make for an entertaining series, rain permitting.
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Angelo Mathews, Milinda Siriwardene, Chamara Kapugedara, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Kithuruwan Vithanage, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Kulasekera, Sachithra Senanayake, Jeffrey Vandersay, Bindra Fernando, Thisara Perera.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (capt), Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Devendra Bishoo.