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West Indies came to Sri Lanka with a reputation of a solid limited-overs team, which is at least as good as Sri Lanka, but considering the result of the One Day Internationals, it would be hard to say that again. The T20 leg of the series is about to begin and once again the two sides will go in with each side having a preconceived reputation. West Indies are the defending champions in this format and Sri Lanka did not even directyl qualify for the main event and would have to go through the qualifiers. However, the difference between the two sides isn't as much as it appears to be. West Indies aren't in the kind of form they would want to be and Sri Lanka have done a lot better than their rankings suggest. While the results matter, the main objective of both the camps will be to zero in on a primary lineup for the shortest format of the game. As the first and third ODIs of the series happened to be, we expect the first match of the T20Is to be a close encounter as well. The two teams are set to lock horns on 4th March at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Pallekele.
While Sri Lanka are coming into the the series on the back of a terrific run in ODIs, they would like to forget their form in the shortest format of the game. Sri Lanka were thrashed in T20Is in both Australia and India in their recent matches and they'll have to put up a much imprved performance against this Caribbean team.
Despite the change in format,Sri Lanka aren't expected to make too many changes to the team that played in the longer version of the game. However, the change of leadership and the inclusion of Lasith Malinga in the playing eleven would be the most prominent of the changes. After being away from T20I cricket for a while, Angelo Mathews is likely to play in the opening encounter and this could prove to be a big boost for the hosts.
While there is a lot of difference between how the two formats are played and approached by teams across the globe, the form of Sri Lankan players is likely to run-on in the T20Is as well. Thisara Perera hit form with the bat in the ODIs and he could be a tough customer to deal with considering the kind of knocks he played in his recent T20 matches.
On paper, Sri Lanka have an explosive unit with almost all of their batsmen capable to hit the ball hard and long from the word go. While their batting is solid, a lot will depend on how their bowling fares on the day. Lasith Maliga is a T20 veteran and has bags of experience with him. Wanindu Hasaranga had a terrific time in ODIs and will want to spin a web in the shortest form as well. Apart from them, the onus will rest on the shoulders of Isuru Udana, Angelo Matthews, Thisara Perera, and Lakshan Sandakan. Their bowling did well in the fifty-over format, but it will be an altogether different challenge in the longer version of the game. If they can do that, it won't be surprising if Sri Lanka gets past Windies in the T20Is as well.
Kusal Perera, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Avishka Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Thisara Perera, Wanidu Hasaranga, Dasun Shanaka, Lasith Malinga, Isuru Udana, Lakshan Sandakan.
West Indies walk into the T20I with the tag of defending champions, but their recent performances doesn't really justify the tag. West Indies come into the series on the back of a forgetful recent record in T20Is and would like to change it around. Such has been their misery of late that they did not even win one of their last five T20I series and that includes a drawn series against Ireland. Rewind a year more - back to July 2018, they have an even worse record as they have won only one series since then.
Coming into the series, West Indies do not have statistics playing to their advantage, but they certainly have the talent available at their disposal. The likes of Lendl Simmons, Kieren Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, and Andre Russell are few of the most sought after T20 players across the globe. With Dwayne Bravo available late in the order, their death bowling appears to be sorted.
The absence of Chris Gayle from the Windies camp is likely to put spotlight on Andre Russell. With some spectacular performances over the years, Andre Russell has made a name for himself in the format. He was exceptional in recently concluded Bangladesh Premier League, contributing with bat and ball both.
Windies do not have form going for them, but that could be attributed to the fact that they did not play with their full-strength squads in most of their previous series. In this series, however, West Indies are going in with their near-full-strength side and will be more confident that they were in the last series. While the absence of Evin Lewis proved to be costly in the ODIs, we do not think that it would matter much in the shorter format of the game. They have a wide-array of players available at their disposal and all of them are capable to change the course of the match in a matter of minutes.
In Lewis' absence, we can see Shai Hope open with Lendl Simmons considering that he would bring about a sense of composure in an otherwise agressive side. Also, he has been in superb form on this tour and could be an asset should West Indies lose early wickets.
There is no doubt that West Indies have more number of match-winners available at their disposal between the two sides. The experience of playing cricket across the globe could come in handy for them. All in all, West Indies have a terrific unit and unlike how they did in ODIs, they will not go down without a fight. In fact, they are a more experienced team as far as experience of playing T20s is concerned. Beating them is going to be a tough task for the hosts.
Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, LMP Simmons, Brandon King, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, F Allen, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas.
Check out the Dream11 fantasy lineup for the first T20I of the two-match series between Sri Lanka and West Indies
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With ICC World T20 just around the corner, the importance of this series is massive. Sri Lanka and West Indies are both still struggling to get the combination right of their respective teams and this series would provide them with an opportunity to do both. Form wise, West Indies are a little ahead as they are coming of two wins in their last five encounters as compared to Sri Lanka, who do not have any wins, as far as last five matches are concerned. Although Sri Lanka have the home advantage, it is going to be of little significance as West Indies have been in Sri Lanka for quite some time now. West Indies are a team that specializes in T20s and considering the number of match-winners available at their disposal, they are our pick as favorites to win the upcoming encounter.
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