West Indies' last shot at silver lining
November 11, 2015
Start time 1900 local (1330 GMT)
West Indies may not have expected to blow the hosts away but, five weeks in, many of their worst fears for the tour have been realised. Not only are they without an international win, they've also had two bowlers - one a crucial limited-overs player - reported for suspect actions.
They have one final chance to yank a silver lining out of this cumulonimbus tour. Darren Sammy has spoken of his team's happy memories at Khettarama from the 2012 World T20, and perhaps nostalgia can be the spark that sees them catch fire after a damp first outing.
Mediocre T20 bowling formed the basis of their loss on Monday, as the visitors continued to deliver length towards the back end of the innings. Sunil Narine was outstanding, as usual, but had scant support from the legion of West Indies seamers, who as a unit, were a little light on variation and surprise. The power in their batting seemed as if it might bail the bowlers out in portions of the chase, but there is perhaps no tougher place in the world to chase tall limited-overs scores than Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, for the little it's worth, protected their top T20 ranking with that victory. More importantly, they seem to be putting together a top order, which, after a little bit of spit-shine and elbow grease, could form the cornerstone of a decent title defence at next year's World T20. This year had seen a sharp return to the troposphere after 2014's astronomical highs, but the West Indies tour has suggested the team is bouncing back. Sri Lanka might not always be a world-beating outfit, but their lows have not tended to last long either.
(last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WLLWW
West Indies: LLWWW
In the spotlight
Now seemingly relieved of the gloves in all formats, Dinesh Chandimal has a little added responsibility with the bat. This has been a season of rebirth for him. Following rejuvenating Test and ODI hands, on Monday, he displayed aptitude in the T20 format he struggled in last year. One of the cleanest hitters in the team when the mood strikes, Chandimal has the potential to play a key role in the 2016 World T20.
On an evening in which all West Indies' seamers went at more than 10 an over, Kieron Pollard managed at least to cause a few problems, and take two wickets. He took pace off the ball to exploit the slow Pallekele surface, and with the Khettarama pitch likely to be even slower, he may be similarly effective there. Too much was required of him with the bat but, nevertheless, he made his presence felt with a few mighty blows off the spinners.
Sri Lanka may be tempted to play the same XI, particularly now that Binura Fernando has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Batsman Dasun Shanaka has been named in his stead.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Kusal Perera (wk), 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Shehan Jayasuriya, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Milinda Siriwardana, 7 Chamara Kapugedara, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Sachithra Senanayake, 10 Lasith Malinga (capt), 11 Dushmantha Chameera
Ravi Rampaul may come into the side, displacing the expensive Jerome Taylor. Elsewhere, West Indies are likely to be unchanged.
West Indies (probable): 1 Johnson Charles, 2 Andre Fletcher (wk), 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Dwayne Bravo, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Jason Holder, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Devendra Bishoo, 11 Ravi Rampaul
Pitch and conditions
Rain may again delay or interrupt this match. The Khettarama surface is historically slow and given to spin.
Stats and trivia
- Sri Lanka have lost eight of the nine T20s they have played at Khettarama.
- If West Indies win this match, they move up to third in the T20 rankings.
- Having crossed the 1500-run threshold in his last innings, Tillakaratne Dilshan now sits second on the T20 internationals run-scorers' list, behind Brendon McCullum.
"Because I bowled well in these few matches, people might say I am back. But personally - having played internationals for more than 11 years - I feel I'm not at my best. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to bowl at my best again, with the injuries that I have. But if the selectors still think I'm in the best 15 in Sri Lanka, I'm happy."
Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga on his apparent return to form
"It would be good to go home on a winning note. We believe we can be victorious in Colombo - a place that is very special to us. In 2012, they defeated us here [in Pallekele] in the group matches, and we beat them there in the finals. It's the same scenario."
West Indies captain Darren Sammy
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando