West Indies and Sri Lanka will now gear up to face-off in a two-match Test series.
The West Indies are favourites to win the first Test!
After being engaged in an entertaining ODI and T20I series, West Indies and Sri Lanka will now move their focus to a two-match Test series beginning from March 21 at North Sound, Antigua. Both the teams will look to improve their Test rankings through this series – Sri Lanka is ranked 7th while the West Indies are the 8th position. However, West Indies will have the edge since they are playing at home. Moreover, they are coming off a terrific 2-0 Test series win from their tour of Bangladesh while Sri Lanka were thumped 0-2 at home.
The West Indians will be a confident lot right now. They have found success in all three formats in recent months and will be eager to continue their good show. In Kraigg Brathwaite, they have a smart captain and a solid opening batsman. Darren Bravo, who was in good touch in the ODIs, will be their main batsman in the middle-order. Expect some big runs from him in this series. Nkrumah Bonner did well in Bangladesh and would like to continue his form. Another batsman to watch out for will be newbie Kyle Mayers who stunned world cricket with his sensational unbeaten 210 on debut against Bangladesh on that historic chase of 395.
On the bowling front, the West Indies have a strong four-pronged pace attack in the form of Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Alzaari Joseph, and Kyle Mayers. They are likely to be quite a handful on this surface against the Lankans. Left-arm orthodox bowler Jomel Warrican is the specialist spinner in the squad. Warraican did will in Bangladesh, picking up 10 wickets in the 2 Tests, and his role will be important here too.
Kraigg Brathwaite (C), Jermaine Blackwood (VC), Nkrumah Bonner, Darren Bravo, John Campbell, Kyle Mayers, Joshua Da Silva (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Alzaari Joseph, Jomel Warrican
Kemar Roach, Nkrumah Bonner, Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder, John Campbell, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kyle Mayers, Kraigg Brathwaite, Alzarri Joseph
Sri Lanka haven’t had the best of times in all formats recently and they will have to be at the top of their game in this Test series if they hope to challenge West Indies at home. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne has a lot riding on his shoulders and would have to lead from the front. Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, and Angelo Mathews will be the mainstays of Sri Lanka’s batting. Chandimal and Matthews are the most experienced batsmen on the side and the team will hope they deliver. Niroshan Dickwella too can be an impact player down the order.
Dhananjaya de Silva, who had missed the England series after sustaining a thigh injury in South Africa, makes a return to the Test squad and the all-rounder’s presence will strengthen the team. His off-spin in particular will be quite handy. Suranga Lakmal and Vishwa Fernando are likely to be the main seamers for Sri Lanka in the first Test. Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, who is fresh from a 10-wicket haul against England, will also have a crucial role to play.
Dimuth Karunaratne(C), Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Ramesh Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando, Lasith Embuldeniya
Niroshan Dickwella, Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Vishwa Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal, Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Lasith Embuldeniya
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||19||0.81 mm.||2.44 k/h||From: NE||42%|
|03h||16||0 mm.||3.19 k/h||From: NNE||15%|
|06h||14||0 mm.||3.44 k/h||From: N||11%|
|09h||13||0 mm.||3.41 k/h||From: N||24%|
|12h||12||0 mm.||3.29 k/h||From: N||30%|
|15h||20||0 mm.||2.58 k/h||From: NNE||39%|
|18h||25||0 mm.||1.48 k/h||From: ENE||29%|
|21h||24||0.44 mm.||0.84 k/h||From: ESE||82%|
The pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua, was pretty even during the ODI series. It was very good for batting for the most part but also helped the seam bowlers. It will be interesting to see what track they use for this Test. But it’s likely to be pretty similar.
The weather in Antigua for all the five days of the Test is expected to be sunny and nice with the day temperatures set to be around 29°C.
Unlike the limited-overs series, the bowlers should get more help during the Tests at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound. The likes of Roach, Holder, and Gabriel have a good record on this venue and it shows that seamers generally have a good time here. There have been only two totals of over 500 achieved on this venue and during the first Test, we can expect totals in excess of 350-plus by the teams in their first innings.
The team winning the toss will be looking to bat first as chasing last on this wicket, which has seen a lot of wear and tear, might be quite tricky.
In the last 5 Tests between West Indies and Sri Lanka, the West Indies have only won one Test while the Lankan Lions have clinched 3 matches. However, times have changed and West Indies are a confident lot right now. They have tasted success in the format recently and have assembled a really solid team in home conditions. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have been poor and are coming off demoralizing losses. It will be hard for them to upstage the Windies at home. Their seniors might put up a good fight, but expect the West Indies to prevail.
The West Indies are favourites to win the first Test!