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|Dhananjaya de Silva||17||29||4||0||58.62|
|Dhananjaya de Silva||8||10||1||0||80.00|
The test series between the West Indies and Sri Lanka almost did not happen. There were no sponsors to speak of, the time difference between West Indies and Sri Lanka raised concerns about the interest from the public, and the West Indies itself had seemed to move on from test cricket.
Test cricket, though, throws up some wonderful surprises and this series has definitely been one of those. The West Indies has prepared relatively fast pitches to exploit the weaknesses of the Sri Lankans and unleashed its battery of young fast bowlers. As a result, the two test matches have been tightly fought and West Indies will take a well deserved 1-0 lead into the last test.
The third and final test of this series will be the first ever day-night test match in the West Indies and that should another layer of intrigue to an already compelling test series.
No West Indies series seems to be complete without reminiscing about the good old days even though they have now been gone for a very long time. Shannon Gabriel, though, has revived some very pleasant memories of the past as he bowls with unbelievable control and fire.
Gabriel was always threatening and had some good days but he never really ran through sides. Perhaps it is the quality of the opposition or maybe he has hit a new level but Shannon Gabriel looks like taking a wicket every time he comes on to bowl.
We are looking forward to seeing him run in with the second new ball after the lights have taken effect at the end of the day because that could be really something memorable. The pink ball usually does a little bit more than the red ball and that should be very encouraging for the West Indian bowlers.
Gabriel has been the standout so far with 17 wickets to his name but the others have been quite good as well. Kemar Roach has 8 wickets to his name and will certainly get a lot of movement with the pink ball, Jason Holder and Miguel Cummins have had their moments as well, while Devendra Bishoo and Roston Chase have done a decent job of breaking partnerships whenever they have come on to bowl.
The bowling side of things seems to be sorted out for the West Indies and we think they will go with the same unit irrespective of the kind of pitch that has been laid out.
The problem for the West Indies is going to be their batting. The pink ball will help the Sri Lankan bowlers as well and make life a lot tougher for their batsmen. So far, some very gritty innings by Dowrich, Powell, Braithwaite, and Smith have underlined the patience that the West Indian batsmen have shown.
Now, their technique is going to be tested more severely as well. Luckily for the West Indies, most of their batsmen have at least one significant score in the series and so all of them should be up for the fight ahead.
Devon Smith, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Shane Dowrich, Devendra Bishoo, Miguel Cummins, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel.
A loss in the first test match when things seemed to be going their way, ball tampering charges, and an inability to close the game out in the second test have left the Sri Lankan side staring at defeat. Make no mistake, they still have the players to be able to win the third match and even the series but the likely loss of Chandimal due to ball tampering charges will have left them severely weakened.
Chandimal was one of two centurions from the Sri Lankan side and possibly the player that was best equipped to be able to face the tough conditions expected in the last test. He has an appeal pending, though, and that could still mean that he is available to play the test match. Currently, though, it looks like he is going to miss out.
Sri Lanka is also missing Angelo Mathews and that means that two of their best batsmen are unavailable for this crucial match. Thinking about the players that are not there does not do them any good, though. Players like Niroashan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, and Dhananjaya de Silva have to step up.
Most of the Sri Lankan lineup, though, is naturally aggressive and it may have trouble reigning itself in on a pitch that offers some assistance to the bowlers. We think that Dhananjay de Silva is possibly going to be the ‘x’ factor for the Sri Lankan batting in this match.
While the Sri Lankan batting is looking for a little undercooked, their bowling certainly has the skill to make an impact.
Suranga Lakmal will lead the seamers but it is Kumara who has picked the most wickets in the series so far. The two seamers have been very inconsistent in comparison to their West Indian counterparts and wicket-taking deliveries are followed by too many boundary balls.
Of more concern, though, would be that both Akila Dananjaya and Rangana Herath have been ineffective in the two test matches. We think Sri Lanka will go back to the experienced Herath in this match but how much of effect that will have remains to be seen.
For Sri Lanka to have a chance in this match they will have to improve in every aspect of the game. Even when the batsmen did a good job in the second test match, the Sri Lankan bowlers were unable to win them the match.
Trailing 1-0 means that Sri Lanka has everything to do.
Danushka Gunathilaka, Mahela Udawatte, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis , Roshen Silva, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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A few showers have been forecast for this first three days of the test match with an expected sunny two days to end the match. Some rain and clouds around will add to the spice in the pitch that will almost certainly have some grass on it. Barbados has been one of the few venues in the West Indies where the bounce is consistently steep and so the fast bowlers should have a good time in this test.
A testing first couple of sessions will probably give way to the best time for batting and so we think that batting first may be the way to go.
There are a lot of variables in this game thanks to the fact that it is going to be the first day-night game in the West Indies. Players from both sides will be tested and need to adapt quickly. Sri Lanka has its back to the wall and is entering this back with a few key players missing. Its spinners have been missing these spinners and we think that is going to be the reason for Sri Lanka’s downfall.
Back the West Indies to win.