If a convincing defeat in the first Test wasn’t enough, Sri Lanka suffered another setback ahead of their second Test, starting on Thursday (June 14), against the in-form Windies. Having already lost the first match by 226 runs, the visiting side will now have to get the job done without Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Gamage.
The duo will take a flight back home mid-way through the three-match series. While Mathews is returning home for personal reasons, Gamage, the right-arm pacer, suffered a fractured finger while batting in the first Test. Meanwhile, Dasun Shanaka and Danushka Gunathilaka have been called in as their replacements. However, the duo will not be considered for selection on Thursday.
The Sri Lankans went into the three-match series as favourites, but were in for a surprise when the home team came out all guns blazing to thump the Dinesh Chandimal-led side at Port of Spain. Sri Lanka looked behind the eight ball right from the get-go and lost the initiative at the end of the first day of the Test. From then on, it was a game of catch up, as the Windies piled on pressure throughout the game, eventually coming out victors on a treacherous fifth-day wicket.
In the absence of Mathews, the onus will now be on the experienced duo of Chandimal and Rangana Herath to provide the impetus for victory at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St Lucia. Their only bright spots from the previous game were the performances of fiery pacer Lahiru Kumara and the diminutive opener Kusal Mendis. Kumara bowled with good pace, albeit a tad bit expensive, but was the best Sri Lankan bowler, bagging seven wickets in the game. Meanwhile, Mendis scored a valiant 102 in the final innings in their chase of 453.
However, Sri Lanka will be further bolstered by the addition of Dhananjaya de Silva, the 26-year-old batsman, who had to unfortunately miss out on the first Test in the wake of his father’s murder. He has had an excellent beginning to Test cricket and will look to strengthen the top order on his return.
In the bowling department, Sri Lanka might bring in Akila Dananjaya, who could offer valuable assistance to Herath and Dilruwan Perera with his uncanny variations.
The Windies will look to take their momentum into St. Lucia, and will most likely play an unchanged eleven. All eyes will be on Shane Dowrich, the wicketkeeper-batsman, who put in a gutsy performance to help his team secure a win in the first Test. With Jason Holder, the Windies captain, praising his lower-order batting for their dogged stint with the bat, there will be less pressure on the likes of Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, who have carried the West Indian batting for the past year or two.
The surprise element of the Windies line up has been their bowling. Their pacers bowled with searing pace and accuracy, and along with Devendra Bishoo and Roston Chase, will look to inflict maximum damage on Sri Lanka’s fragile batting.
With showers expected over the course of five days, the toss will be crucial for both teams, and with the Windies 1-0 up, Sri Lanka have it all to do to keep the series alive.
Windies: Jason Holder (capt), Devendra Bishoo, Devon Smith, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Jahmar Hamilton, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Kemar Roach.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Mahela Udawatte, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Roshen Silva, Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Dasun Shanaka, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Asitha Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva.