West Indies' 25-run win in the first T20I on Wednesday, March 4 presents them an opportunity to clinch a bilateral series win; a feat that has eluded them for more than a year.
Sri Lanka v West Indies, 2nd T20I
Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy
Friday, 06 March; 07.30pm local, 01.30am GMT
West Indies' last T20I series win came in Bangladesh in December 2018. They've played five series since then and lost all of them, winning only four games out of 15 completed games, including the one in the series opener on Wednesday. They will take inspiration from the form of their senior opening batsman Lendl Simmons and the experienced Andre Russell, who struck a 14-ball 35 before claiming the decisive scalp of Kusal Perera on his international comeback.
On the bowling front, Sheldon Cottrell has carried his form from the ODIs, while Oshane Thomas gave evidence of his white-ball credentials with a five-for. While they do have the reliable Dwayne Bravo to operate in the middle overs and at death, the lack of established options on the spin front, considering the conditions could be a worry.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, would back themselves to bounce back from the defeat. They would expect more from their top-order if they are to outscore the power-packed West Indies line-up. The form of Angelo Matthews remains to be a concern, with the veteran managing just 28 runs from his last four innings across formats.
The lack of a specialist seam-bowling option to assist skipper Lasith Malinga and Isuru Udana was clearly visible and the hosts might well be tempted to rope in one of Lahiru Kumara and Asitha Fernando to fill that void.
Remember the last time
Lendl Simmons and Brandon King put on solid 74-run opening partnership after Kieron Pollard opted to bat in the first T20I on Wednesday. The latter carried his bat, anchoring the innings with an unbeaten 67, while Andre Russell (35 off 14) and Pollard (34 off 15) gave the late flourish to help them finish at 194/4 in 20 overs.
Oshane Thomas then ran through Sri Lanka's batting, reducing them to 17/3 and subsequently to 56/5 to put his side on top. Kusal Perera however, blasted his way to a 38-ball 66, adding 87 runs from 9.3 overs with Wanindu Hasaranga, before the latter's wicket in the 16th over put a spanner in the works for the hosts. They were eventually bundled out for 171 in the 20th over, giving West Indies a comfortable 25-run win.
What they said
Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka captain: "After ODI tournament, the team had good confidence. Unfortunately we lost five wickets very early, those wickets were very crucial, we didn't get partnerships in the top order. We are a young unit, I think we'll learn and deliver in the next match."
Kieron Pollard, West Indies captain: "It's good to win. It was a total team effort. Oshane was brilliant. This is his second game since he's back. He executed his plans really well. In the T20s the guys have shown us their skills. I'll tell you our plan to Kusal Perera after the next game, he's obviously their mainstay."
The forecast in Pallekele for Friday isn't all that great, with fairly high chances of rains. Teams batting first have generally benefited at the venue, having won 12 of the 18 completed games played here.