Eager to leave their Champions Trophy eliminations behind, host West Indies and Sri Lanka will square off here on Friday in the opening match of a tri-nation one-day series, which also features an in-form India.
The West Indies was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions Trophy when it lost to South Africa via D/L method while the Lankans were humbled in the semifinals by India.
Sri Lanka had beaten Australia and finalist England en route to the knockout stage while the Caribbeans were disfavoured by luck as weather put paid to their hopes in the crucial match against the Proteas.
The teams have come into the tournament with almost the same set of players except that the hosts have left out Ramnaresh Sarwan and Jason Holder. The Lankans were forced to leave out injured opener T. Dilshan.
Wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin has re-joined the West Indian side after serving his ban for wrongly claiming a catch against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy. The Lankans have not played much in this part of the world. The last time they competed here was in the 2007 World Cup but the conditions may support their spin-oriented attack, which also has Ajantha Mendis.
Like Champions Trophy, weather is a matter of concern here too and if the rain gods allow a full game, it will be an interesting contest between the West Indies batting and the Sri Lankan bowlers.
The spin trio of Ajantha Mendis, Sachithra Senanayake and Rangana Herath will pose a threat to the Caribbeans, who would rely on good starts by Chris Gayle.
The Lankan batting will once again revolve around Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena. The Caribbean line-up, led by Dwayne Bravo, is full of potent match-winning all-rounders and the home conditions would give them extra confidence and motivation to do well.
West Indies head coach Ottis Gibson said they were “gutted” with what happened in England but reposed full faith in his players. “It’s to put those silly little mistakes that we made in England, sort of put them away. We felt we had a good opportunity to win that tournament and we want to win this one and prove ourselves right.”
West Indies skipper Dwayne Bravo said confidently that his side had a good chance to win the tournament. “It’s always good to play in the Caribbean, starting in Jamaica, (and) we have a good record here. We want to start well, aim to get into the final, but it’s not going to be easy.”
The teams (from): West Indies: Dwayne Bravo (capt.), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels and Devon Smith.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt.), Kusal Perera, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanne, Mahela Jayawardena, Jeevan Mendis, Ajantha Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Sachithra Senanayake, Rangana Herath, Dilhara Lokuhettige and Shaminda Eranga.