West Indies vs Sri Lanka 3rd T20I Preview: One fire, one misfire from West Indian big hitters sets up series decider
While the West Indies batsmen were able to get hold of the Sri Lankan spinners in the first T20I despite losing a few quick wickets, the Lankan spinners bounced back to share eight wickets between them in the second T20I.
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West Indies' high-risk, high-reward T20 template
The West Indian T20I team have a clear game plan of how they go about their business in this format of the game. However, their style of going for a six off almost every second delivery is a high-risk, high-reward affair.
When it comes off, it looks sensational, just like Kieron Pollard's six sixes in one over in the last match. But when it does not, even par totals like the one in the second T20I can be a bit of a struggle.
Sri Lanka bounce back
After West Indies comfortably won the first T20I of the 3-match series by 4 wickets despite not playing their best cricket, it seemed as if there was a huge delta between the two teams.
However, the fickle nature of the format and of both West Indies and Sri Lanka ensured that the picture was completely overturned in the second T20I.
Gunathilaka, Sri Lanka's best T20 batsman currently?
A big relief for Sri Lanka was that opener Danushka Gunathilaka fired for them which made their batting line up look way better. Gunathilaka was the highest run scorer in the Lanka Premier League but could manage just 4 runs in the first T20I, which left the middle order to do a lot of heavy lifting.
His flawless 56 off 42 deliveries at a strike rate of 133 set up a brilliant opening partnership of 95 with young and upcoming Sri Lankan star Pathum Nissanka which gave a different look to the Sri Lankan batting line up.
Chandimal and Mathews need to break shackles
However, the point of concern for them is Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews, both of whom seem more of a liability for Sri Lanka at this moment. The two combined to add just 16 runs between them off 22 deliveries in the second T20I, which is not good enough, especially after the team had got off to a rollicking start.
The team made an error by pushing down wicketkeeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella too low at number 8. Dickwella can be used in the middle order if not at the top to provide something different to the team.
Sri Lanka's best bet can be to slot him between Chandimal and Matthews. This will give the team the best of both worlds. While the team will get quality of Chandimal and Matthews to ensure that they do not suffer a collapse, it will also give Dickwella the licence to go after the bowlers, which is his natural style.
Pressure on Edwards
For West Indies, Fidel Edwards has now been expensive in back to back matches and if he does not fare well in the final match of T20I series, it might be curtains on his international career. The team already has the likes of Akeal Hosein and Rovman Powell, sitting on the bench, who can provide the team with good all-round options and something with the ball as well.
Unlike the first T20I, the opening pair of Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis could not get West Indies off to an explosive start in the second match, with Lewis falling In the third over itself. The middle order failed once again, and this time, there was no Kieron Pollard special to bail West Indies out of trouble.
A 7-ball 23 from Obed McCoy at the end only served to decrease the margin of defeat for West Indies.
Sri Lanka's spin threat
Sri Lanka decided to go in with an extra spinner in Lakshan Sandakan, bringing him in place of Nuwan Pradeep, after the spinners ruled the roost in the first T20I, and the move worked perfectly well.
Wanindu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan shared 8 wickets between them in the second T20I and will hold the key in the last match of the series as well. If they manage to repeat their heroics, Sri Lanka might well bag the series.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
West Indies - Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard (c), Jason Holder, Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Kevin Sinclair, Obed McCoy, Fidel Edwards
Sri Lanka - Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews (c), Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ashen Bandara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Dushmantha Chameera
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