This is the fourth tour of Sri Lanka by the West Indies, so what can we expect from the West Indies?
In there first tour in 1993, there was only one Test match and it ended in a draw. Then came the one of the strangest series I have seen in Sri Lanka; in 2001 it was Brian Lara versus Sri Lanka. It is safe to say that Lara completely dominated Murali in that series. It was some of the best batting seen in Sri Lanka by a visiting batsmen. The strange thing is that Sri Lanka still won the series 3-0.
In 2005, Sri Lanka won 2-0 very easily.
So, will West Indies reverse the pattern in this series? Only time will tell. But if you look at the West Indies squad it seems unlikely.
We’ll take a look at the spinners first. The tall and fiery Sulieman Benn will be the their first choice spinner who boasts a Test bowling average of 40 in 15 matches, which tells us he’s more of a tight line and length bowler than a wicket taker.
Shane Shillingford will be playing his 4th test match if he starts in Galle. It will be left to the fast bowlers to make major inroads into the Sri Lankan batting.
In fast bowling, there is the impressive Kemar Roach who is most likely to trouble the Lankan batting lineup if he finds some early swing. Then there is the allround talents of Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo. Bravo, is the most experienced bowler on tour with 37 test matches while the other bowlers have a combined total of 34 tests.
The W#indies batting is far more impressive and expirenced. The main threat will be Shiv Chanderpaul who has a Test average of 49 across 126 tests. What will make him important to the Windies is his ability to occupy the crease for a long period of time.
Next inline will be Brendon Nash the ex Australian state player who will surely put up some stubborn resistance with Chanderpaul.
Adrian Barath who is rated very highly by the west indies and announced himself in international cricket with a century against Australia at the Gabba will be one to lookout for.
Then there is the unpredictable Chris Gayle who will worry the bowling attack especially if he settles at the wicket for some period of time.
Dwayne Bravo who still hasn’t realized his full potential will be looking to have a series to remember with the bat.
Sri Lanka has only announced a squad for the first Test match.
I think the batting picks itself because of the strong performance put in by the top 5,barring injury it should be Dilshan,Paranavitana,Sanga,Mahela,and smaraweera.Mathews also will get the nod if he’s fit .The no 7 slot is a debatable position prasanna jayawardene is the best keeper we have in the country but his recent mistakes in the india series means the spotlight is on him we’ll see if he delivers under pressure or fail.The patiently waiting Kaushal silva is a very good batsmen and wicket keeper who has the potential to become sri lanka’s permanent test keeper in the future.It will be surprising if he does not get a game in this series.
Of the four bowlers who will play, only sure entry will be Randiv who I think has done enough to establish himself as the number one spinner in the country.The next spinning slot will be between mendis and herath,medis will provide unpredictability while herath will bowl tidily. Whoever is picked they will surely pick up wickets against the windies.The players fighting for the fast bowling berths are Dilhara and Prasad who are fast with Thushara and Lakmal who are swing bowlers sri lanka will probably go with the expirence of Dilhara and Thushara.Unless mendis finds his touch again there is no bowler who can run through the windies batting line up, therefore sri lankan bowlers will do well to bowl as unit and every bowler contributing with the wickets.
At the beginning of this series the odds are stacked very heavily in favor of sri lanka.But cricket is a funny game which likes to level things out, so there is still hope for west indies if they perform to the best of their ability. Sri lanka though will not be satisfied with anything less than a clean sweep of the series.