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February 5, 2011
Match FactsFebruary 6, SSC
It took three Tests and two ODIs for the rain-hit tour(s) to yield an outright result. The comprehensive win in the second ODI was a boost to Sri Lanka, affirming their superiority in home conditions, and a blemish for the visitors who had appeared to punch above their weight in the contests thus far.
But the outcome of the three-match series is unlikely to leave either team too demoralised or too elated ahead of the World Cup. The series, which was rescheduled from December due to inclement weather, is much shorter than some of the series played by other teams in the World Cup build-up, and the first match was washed out after West Indies' innings. Three matches, with the lurking rain, is not adequate preparation, but both teams can take positives from the little cricket that has been played. Upul Tharanga's century, and disciplined bowling performances in each of the two games have been the positives for Sri Lanka, while West Indies will be relieved with Adrian Barath and Ramnaresh Sarwan striking form. Barath scored his first ODI century in the first match, while Sarwan got his first half-century since April last year in that game.
With just a game left, the visitors would be aiming for more consistency in their batting. Chris Gayle and the Bravo brothers got starts in the second ODI but didn't push on, while for Sri Lanka, their middle order still hasn't been tested this series. The hosts remain favourites, but West Indies have shown spirit on this tour. To end it even, against a team formidable in home conditions, and under a new captain, would mark a significant first step ahead of the World Cup.
Form guide(Last five completed games)
Sri Lanka: WLWWW
West Indies: LLLLL
Players to watch out for …
Chris Gayle: He sizzled in the Test series, scoring 333 in Galle, but has yet to take off in the ODIs. He warmed up with a fluent but brief innings in the second ODI, smacking four fours and a six, but he hasn't got an ODI century since January 2009, and will want to prove he's capable of playing a match-winning knock.
Sri Lanka's middle order: Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews and Chamara Silva haven't had a go this series, with the bat. It would be worth tweaking the batting line-up with Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene perhaps dropping down to give the others a shot in the middle.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul had missed the second game due to illness. If he's back to strengthen the batting, West Indies could be forced to leave out a bowler.
West Indies (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Adrian Barath, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Carlton Baugh (wk), 10 Sulieman Benn, 11 Kemar Roach.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Chamara Kapugedera, 4 Thilan Samaraweera, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Mahela Jayawardene, 7 Kumar Sangakkara (capt and wk), 8 Rangana Herath, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.
"Kumar [Sangakkara] and Mahela [Jayawardene] should not be batting at No. 3 and 4. One of them has to come down to No. 5 to bolster the middle order. Maybe they should send [Chamara] Kapugedera up the order to No. 4."
Arjuna Ranatunga opines on Sri Lanka's batting line-up
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.