Sri Lanka and Windies rely on spinners in First Test
Both West Indies and Sri Lanka teams are looking to strengthen their spin departments in the first test which will commence tomorrow (21) at the Galle International Cricket Stadium. The Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne will not underestimate the new look West Indies test team. The Galle wicket is more suited for the spinners especially after the first two days and both teams are getting ready to take up this challenge
The current inclement weather conditions have not made preparations any easier and it is also a deciding factor in the test series. The only practice game between SLC Presidents X1 and West Indies was washed out without a ball being bowled at SSC grounds last week.
Sri Lanka opener Lahiru Thirimanne, the fourth-highest run-scorer in Test cricket for 2021, will miss the West Indies Test series and due to his unavailability skipper Dimuth Karunartatne will have to forge a new opening partnership, and promising right hander Pathum Nissanka has a good chance to get open with the skipper.
Nissanka the 23-year-old right-hander made his debut test hundred against West Indies last March at Antigua as a number six batter is in good form during the last T-20 world cup as an opener. Now he has to turn into red ball cricket to continue his form. He can bat in all three formats and already proved his skills and this is going to be a good opportunity for young Nissanka.
Two players Oshada Fernando and Chairth Aslanka the uncapped all-rounder are looking for the number three batting slot which is not decided yet. Asalanka was in top form at the white ball cricket with successful T20 world cup match series with the highest batting average. He was last time named for the Test squad in 2018 but couldn’t find the place for the final eleven and is looking to get his debut game.
This test series will see the return to international cricket of senior players Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, and Suranga Lakmal who were side-lined from white ball cricket. The presence of experienced Angelo Matthews, Dinesh Chandimal, and Dhananjaya de Silva will strengthen the middle order. The 34-year-old Lakmal who was adjudged player of the series at the last West Indies test series having taken eleven wickets will retain his place with Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara as fast bowlers.
Praveen Jayawickrama the 23-year-old leg spinner who finished with eleven wickets in his debut test against Bangladesh at Pallakele last April is likely to play in the first test with wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan while Lasith Embuldeniya too is in contention for a place
Meanwhile, West Indies Test team is ready to take up the challenge against Sri Lanka. The vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood said “the T20 team’s performance has not put any additional pressure on the Test squad. West Indies have never won a series in Sri Lanka, Blackwood said the Kraigg Brathwaite-led team would be seeking to turn that around.
We have some very good players in the team and everyone knows that we haven’t won a series for several years now and we’re going to take it upon ourselves to make sure we can [change] that and actually win some games here and actually turn that curve for West Indies cricket in terms of winning games n Sri Lanka,” he said.
That winning way began in February of this year with a morale-boosting 2-0 series victory against Bangladesh in their backyard, with players such as Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, and Rahkeem Cornwall coming up big on that tour and they will come back with a good performance in this series. The West Indies coach Phil Simmons said “it will be a heavy dose of spin coming from them because we saw that when they played England. They opened the bowling with a spinner. So we are going to be focusing a lot on how we combat that spin with the new ball and then bat as normal after that, Like Sri Lanka, the West Indies have made sure that they have also equipped their side with spinners, with as many as three slow bowlers plus all-rounder Roston Chase at their disposal. We have a lot of spinners, and so far on away tours, Rahkeem Cornwall has been the number-one spinner at the start of the year, so I would say Rahkeem would be our first-choice spinner.” added Coach Simmons.
The two teams have played 22 tests while Sri Lanka is ahead with 9 wins over West Indies 4 wins and nine tests ended within no decisions.
Sri Lanka Test squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Oshada Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Minod Bhanuka, Kamil Mishara, Roshen Silva, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Praveen Jayawickrama, Lasith Embuldeniya, Lakshan Sandakan, Suminda Lakshan, Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Asitha Fernando, and Chamika Gunasekara.
West Indies Test squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-capt), Nkrumah Bonner, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Veerasammy, Permaul, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Jeremy Solozano, Jomel Warrican.