There is likely to be a spring in the step of the inexperienced Sri Lankan side when it takes on West Indies in the second game of the triangular One-Day International series at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday (November 16).
Sri Lanka’s tour of Zimbabwe has been a very successful one so far. It registered a clean 2-0 sweep of the Test series, and then secured a thumping eight-wicket win in the first tri-series game on Monday.
Ahead of the tour, there was a bit of a concern about the inexperience in the ranks, but the team has shown enough promise and enterprise so far. In the injury-enforced absence of the experienced duo of Angelo Mathews, their captain, and Dinesh Chandimal, the vice-captain, Upul Tharanga is leading the side with Kusal Perera serving as his deputy. But against a below-par Zimbabwe side in the tournament opener, the team was dominant, bowling the home side out for 154 first and the overhauling the target with 153 balls in hand.
West Indies, meanwhile, endured a difficult tour of the United Arab Emirates recently, where it was beaten convincingly in the limited-overs exchanges and went 2-0 down in the three-Test series against Pakistan before bouncing back to win the last Test by five wickets on the back of Kraigg Brathwaite’s heroics.
Like Sri Lanka, West Indies is also looking at this series as an audition for its youngsters in the absence of a few of the big names.
West Indies dropped Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin for the tri-series due to lack of form. And Darren Bravo was withdrawn from the squad later on, with Jason Mohammed rushed in as the replacement. In their absence, Johnson Charles and Kraigg Brathwaite will hold the key to the team’s batting fortunes, especially with an inexperienced middle order to follow.
Shai Hope, the 22-year-old batsman, has been drafted into the squad for the first time, while Rovman Powell, the 23-year-old all-rounder who was in the squad for the Twenty20 International series in the UAE, has been called up to add some all-round firepower in the absence of Pollard as well as Andre Russell, who was not up for selection because of personal reasons, the same as Sunil Narine.
Sulieman Benn and Devendra Bishoo will hold the key to West Indies’ spin fortunes, while they will rely on Shannon Gabriel to lead the pace attack.
Sri Lanka has been in Zimbabwe for quite some time now, and its relative familiarity of the conditions could add to its advantage. For its part, West Indies had a weeklong training camp in Potchefstroom in South Africa, and Jason Holder, the captain, said it served as a good chance for the unit to take stock. “The guys had a few days off to catch themselves and recuperate after the long series in Dubai,” he said. “It’s just a situation where we got what we wanted out of the training camp and moving into the tri-series, I think we are much better prepared.”
If both teams play to potential, this game could be an interesting one and give the tournament a bit of a boost.
Sri Lanka: Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Upul Tharanga (capt), Kusal Mendis, Shehan Jayasuriya, Asela Gunaratne, Sachith Pathirana, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dasun Shanaka, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Jeffery Vandersay.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Sulieman Benn, Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope (wk), Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell.