Shivnarine Chanderpaul will have another key role to play in West Indies' middle order © AFP
 

Ahead of Saturday's first Test against Sri Lanka, Reon King, the coach of the Guyana President's Select XI which took on the Sri Lankans in the warm-up game, has highlighted the middle order as the series' deciding factor.

"The bulk of the experience for both teams is in the middle order and with the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan in our middle order and Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara in [Sri Lanka's]" King said. "Both bowling attacks will want to get to them early so the middle orders will have to come big.

"I think the new ball will be key for the West Indies bowlers because you want to get a few wickets early and expose their batting strengths in Jayawardene and Sangakkara along with the attacking players such as Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chamara Silva.

Looking ahead to the conditions, King said that the pitch - despite hosting its inaugural Test match - ought not to be overly different from the old Bourda venue.

"From looking at our game I think what you will find early on is that the wicket will start slow but as it progresses the bounce will become higher and a little truer. What you found is that even when Murali was bowling on the second day it was easy paced and when it turned, it turned slow."

King sounded a note of caution, however, and warned West Indies' batsmen to be wary of Sri Lanka's two experienced bowlers, Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan.

"Sri Lanka have some inexperience in the seam bowling department and they have a proliferation of left arm seamers. It is a clear plus for them to have Vaas and Muralitharan but if the West Indies batsmen can blunt those two then they can capitalize on the inexperience of the rest of their attack," he said. "Their seamers seemed to be trying to get swing but what I got from our batsmen was that there wasn't much swing at all. The West Indies batsmen have to be positive but not play indiscreet shots, especially to bowlers like Murali and Vaas.

"That is the way Jason Haynes and Sharmarh Brooks [who both made fifties for the President's Select XI] played, they weren't overawed by the presence of Murali, they backed themselves and were positive. If the West Indies batsmen, who are much more capable than Brooks, could learn from what he did and play each ball on its merit then their success will be better."

Even though Sri Lanka gave an excellent account of themselves in the warm up game King reckons they have not yet completely adjusted to the local conditions.

"The batsmen don't seem to be absolutely comfortable with the slowness in the surface here as yet, maybe because they were just in Australia or are probably because they are used to a bit more bounce in their own surfaces back home. They struggled a bit with the lowness of the bounce on the track we played on," King said.

"On the bowling side the seamers, because of the slowness of the track struggled with their lines and lengths and I think they were genuinely surprised by the lowness of the track."