Strengthened Sri Lanka eye series win
November 4, 2015
Start time 1430 local (0900 GMT)
Spectators who came to the opening ODI spent much of their time wondering if the rains would relent long enough to allow the game's completion. In the end, they were rewarded for their patience with a shortened match that featured myriad peaks and troughs for either team, hairpin bends, collapses and dropped catches, all leading to a delicious climax featuring unlikely heroes. Sri Lanka should have sauntered to victory after the start Tillakaratne Dilshan had given them. Instead, they had their middle order exposed by spin - not for the first time this home season - and squeaked home thanks to a steady hand from Ajantha Mendis.
What the exercise suggested, was that while there was a chasm between the quality of the Test teams, West Indies and Sri Lanka are well-matched in the shorter formats. Sri Lanka have a better top order, but West Indies have finishers who can put the ball into orbit. The hosts' seam attack is more reliable, but in Sunil Narine, West Indies have a spinner who can send a whole section of the batting order tumbling, in an over. With daily rains around now, shortening of matches may suit the visitors' explosive brand of cricket.
Sri Lanka will be strengthened, and West Indies weakened for the second ODI, however. Dinesh Chandimal is available for Sri Lanka again, after having served his one-match ban for an altercation with Ishant Sharma in August. Jason Holder, meanwhile, is suspended for the match due to slow over rates in the previous match, and Andre Russell remains in doubt due to the abdominal strain he sustained during the previous match. Those changes are significant. Holder and Russell had been West Indies' best batsmen in the first ODI, and Chandimal's return helps steady a wobbly middle order.
Sri Lanka: WWLLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies: LLWLL
In the spotlight
Lahiru Thirimanne's Test form has been mediocre all year, but on past tours he has been a rejuvenated batsman in ODIs. The cover drives begin to find the boundary, instead of a pair of hands in the slips. The swivel pulls and slog sweeps return to his game. And the movement of his limbs no longer invite comparisons with planks of wood afflicted by rigor mortis, which they did just before he was dropped in Tests. He played his 100th ODI on Sunday, but now needs a substantial score to shore up his place in the ODI side.
Marlon Samuels will have fond memories of his match-winning performance at the Premadasa Stadium in the World T20 final three years ago. His more recent outings on the island have been forgettable. Disqualified from bowling now, after allowing the 14-day grace period in which he can have his action tested to lapse, Samuels finds himself in charge of the team in Holders absence. Perhaps the extra responsibility can spark something in his batting.
With Chandimal likely to return to the No. 4 position, Shehan Jayasuriya seems likeliest to make way from the top seven. Suranga Lakmal and a trimmer Lasith Malinga are likely to take the new ball, but Sri Lanka may consider playing tearaway quick Dushmantha Chameera ahead of one of their frontline spinners.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Kusal Perera, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Lahiru Thirimanne, 4 Dinesh Chandimal , 5 Angelo Mathews (capt), 6 Milinda Siriwardana, 7 Danushka Gunathilaka, 8 Sachithra Senanayake, 9, Ajantha Mendis 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Suranga Lakmal
Ravi Rampaul is likely to play in Holder's stead. The team has said it will wait till Wednesday morning to make a call on Russell's fitness. If he can't play, West Indies will be tempted to play batsman Jason Mohammed, who bowls a little offspin. Jonathan Carter may also be required to bowl a few overs.
West Indies (probable): 1 Johnson Charles, 2 Andre Fletcher, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Jonathan Carter, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Andre Russell/Jason Mohammed, 8 Carlos Brathwaite, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Jerome Taylor, 11 Ravi Rampaul
Pitch and conditions
The pitch is unlikely to have changes substantially since Sunday. It had offered the seamers good bounce and a little bit of seam movement with the new ball, but the spinners got turn out of it as well.
Given the weather in Colombo over the past week, expect rain delays and interruptions.
Stats and trivia
- Despite inconsistency in Tests, Thirimanne has made steady contributions in ODIs, averaging 41.05 last year, and 39.41 so far in 2015.
- Denesh Ramdin needs 80 runs to complete 2000 in ODIs. He averages 24.93 after 99 innings.
- Dinesh Chandimal and Thirimanne, who debuted in 2010, have both played 100 ODIs - 16 more than Ajantha Mendis, who debuted in 2008.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando