West Indies vs Sri Lanka 2nd Test Preview: Another attritional game expected between well-matched sides
Proper attritional Test cricket, which lasted through five days in the opening match, has set up the second test match nicely.
Full marks for effort despite nothing much to gain
When you look at it on face value, there isn't a lot to play for either Sri Lanka or West Indies in this test series. Not many big ticket players are part of the the two-match affairs and with a high voltage series between England and India going on and the cricketing world gearing up for an IPL which will include some of the top drawer West Indian stars, the test series isn't being given the attention it deserves in international cricketing circles.
However, when you are playing for your country, you don't require any further motivation.
West Indies are placed at the 6th spot in the World Test Championship table, having played 5 series and one just one of them. They have a total of three wins and six losses and are with 180 points.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have also played 5 series but have not won a single one, having lost 6 and won one of their 9 test matches. The team is with 10p points.
With India and New Zealand having already qualified for the World Test Championship final, West Indies and Sri Lanka know that they won't progress any further in the table regardless of the result. However, the way all the 22 players on the field applied themselves in the first test match, it was heartening to see, and sets up the series nicely.
The moving Dukes ball
The Dukes ball did a few tricks early on in the first test match and the Sri Lankan batsmen were clearly not up for it to begin with. Only Lahiru Thirimanne could notch up a half century in Sri Lanka's first innings in the first test match as the team was bowled out for just 169.
Clearly, when the ball is hopping around and the pitch has something in it for the fast bowler, playing the quality of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder is no mean feat. The Sri Lankan batsmen haven't faced such testing bowling in a long time and looked ill-equipped to counter West Indies' brilliance as a result.
However, now that both the teams have got accustomed to the pace and bounce of the pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium at North Sound in Antigua, which is the venue for both the test matches, they are expected to cope with it a little bit better in this match.
Dream come true for Nkrumah Bonner
Nkrumah Bonner was named Player of the Match in the first test and it stood for a lot for the determined batsman. His unbeaten knock of 113 was his first test century and was the fruit of the blood and sweat he put into his 12 years of first class cricket. The batsman faced as many as 274 deliveries to ensure that West Indies closed out with a draw.
"It's truly special for me. This is my childhood dream and I'm really happy I got this monkey off my back. The first innings my foot wasn't moving as much as I wanted it too. Sri Lankan bowlers are very disciplined so it was very important to me to stay disciplined and play in the V as much as possible. I think Lakmal was really challenging. All of them are challenging but he was a cut above the rest," Bonner said after the match.
Respect the bowlers first, then cash in
While Sri Lanka will be wary of Kemar Roach and Jason Holder, especially with the new rock, the West Indies batsmen will be very cautious against Suranga Lakmal and Vishwa Fernando.
West Indies have Darren Bravo and Jomel Warrican to choose from. Ramesh Mendis, Asitha Fernando, Roshen Silva, Dasun Shanaka and Wanindu Hasaranga are on the bench for Sri Lanka.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
West Indies - Kraigg Brathwaite (c), John Campbell, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder, Joshua Da Silva (wk), Alzarri Joseph, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel
Sri Lanka - Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum Nissanka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Lasith Embuldeniya
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