Indian Oil Cup 2005 July 28, 2005

Morton promoted to opener's slot

Tony Cozier

Runako Morton: likely to open the batting in the one-dayers © Getty Images
Faced with Xavier Marshall's lack of form and, more especially, confidence in the recent Test series, West Indies have promoted Runako Morton to open the batting with Ryan Ramdass in today's one-day practice match against a Kandy XI.

It is a clear indication that Morton will also fill what is an unaccustomed position for the first match in the triangular one-day series against India in Dambulla on Sunday. The tournament gets underway on Saturday when Sri Lanka take on India, always a crowd-pulling match. Each team plays the other twice in the preliminary round with the top two moving into the final at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on August 9.

Marshall, the 19-year-old Jamaican who was second only to Morton in the run-scorers' list in last year's regional President's Cup one-day tourament, looked out of his depth in the two Tests against Sri Lanka. He was dismissed for 10, 1, 4 and 1 and it is better for him to be protected against more morale-sapping examinations against the same Sri Lankans he faced in the Tests and the strong Indian attack that includes three left-arm swing bowlers - Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan - in the same mould as Chaminda Vaas who so bothered him in the Tests.

Fast bowlers Kerry Jeremy, like Marshall drafted in from the A team when the 10 originally chosen players withdrew over the impasse between the WICB and the WIPA, and left-armer Deighton Butler, who was summoned from his club team in England, are both in the XI. They were among the reserves in the Tests but can use the opportunity to push their claims for a place in the one-day team, even if the Kandy team contains few first-class players and certainly not its two most famous cricketers, Muttiah Muralitheran and Kumar Sangakkara.

Daren Powell and Jermaine Lawson have been rested and Omari Banks omitted, an indication that he will not be in Sunday's XI. Ricardo Powell, now a veteran of 105 ODIs, arrived from Trinidad on Saturday to bring the squad to 15. He lends much-needed experience to the reconstituted team that faces as daunting a challenge as it did in the Tests.

Sri Lanka are ranked second on the latest International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI table. Even though India are as low as sixth, two above West Indies, they have some of the finest players in the modern game, even without their star batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, who is taking care of an injured elbow.