The Lankans go into their final ODI against the West Indies today and will vie for another comfortable win to keep their morale high in their run to the more important World Cup in their own backyard thirteen days hence.
Yes, the weather once again would play a major role in the final outcome as more rains are predicted by the authorities.
|The West Indian cricketers engaged in a light session at the SSC Grounds yesterday. (Pic by Sanka Vidanagama)
The first game just melted into a watery grave on the last day of the last month after a century by the West Indian opener – young Adrian Barath who was mainly responsible for their final total of 245 for 5 in 50 overs. Besides Barath, seasoned campaigner Ramnaresh Sarwan also rode back into form with a solid knock of 73. Yet, after the West Indian inning rain took charge of the proceedings.
The second game which went on till the end in spite of continued gloomy weather was a complete contrast. May be bugged by the dark clouds above the West Indian batted an hapless inning and were all out for 203 on the dot of 50 overs.
It was very significant that the Lankan ground fielding and catching which look lethargic in the first encounter looked sharp and agile. The pick of the Lankan fielders was Chamara Kapugedera who has picked one of Tillekeratne Dilshan since of late. Once again the pick of round-arm Malinga who finished with yet another three wicket haul.
In the two matches once again Muralitharan proved that he still has not lost his guile while left armer Herath added more punch into that department than featureless ‘carrom ball’ operator Ajantha Mendis.
Besides that another worrying factor is the rhythm of the Lankan third seamer Angelo Mathews who hardly worried any batsman in the eleven overs that he has bowled so far in the series.
In their batting department the most encouraging factor is the confidence of Mahela Jayawardena who made a flawless 48 not out against Roach and company. While centurion Tharanga had anchored himself into a long inning Mahela made the job of batting on that slow track look so easy.
At the same time Sri Lankan while looking for that series win would also think of proving some match practice to their other World Cup aspirants in Dilhara Fernando, Thisara Perera and Chamara Kapugedera as this is their last official international outing before the big one.
However they have two other practice matches coming when they take on the Netherlands at the Pallekele Stadium on the 12th and take on the West Indies again on the 16th at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
The West Indies on their part may look to replace out of form Kieron Pollard and add more punch to their attack by including lanky Sulieman Benn who is one of their main World Cup hopes. Pollard who is a dashing middle order batsman twice became Malinga’s ‘bunny’ when he was deceived and bowled by a slower delivery.
Besides Benn, Andre Russel and Devon Smith also have not got their due exposure during this shortened tour.
Sri Lanka from: Kumar Sangakkara (captain/keeper), Mahela Jayawardene (vice-captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dilhara Fernando, Rangana Herath, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekera, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Thisara Perera, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Upul Tharanga.
West Indies from: Darren Sammy (captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh (wicket keeper) Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwn, Devon Smith