Sri Lanka are playing an ODI series after five months while West Indies will come at them hard having gone through a high scoring series in India which they lost 1-2 and following it up with 3-0 whitewash of Ireland at home.
“The strength and metal the side showed in India gave us that blue print on how we want to play cricket going forward against whichever team we come up against. We have that set it’s just a matter of ticking boxes. When we do pretty well we reward the guys, if we don’t do well we talk about what we need to improve and consistently keep moving forward,” said West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard at the pre-match press conference yesterday.
Commenting on the closeness of the rankings between the two sides Pollard said, “Sometimes we take a lot of look into the rankings its one point between us but it’s again how you play cricket and what you want to achieve out of it.
“Both teams are in a sort of a position of trying to building or trying to find out what’s the best way they should play ODI cricket. It’s a matter of who are able to absorb those plans, actually come out and execute them. I think it’s going to be a very good series keenly contested.
“As for us we have more details as to what we want to look at coming out of this series. When you look at the Sri Lankan team they have a lot of exciting guys in their line-up. Angelo (Mathews) has been around, he has been injured but he has come back and done fairly well for them. They have a young captain and they are a lot inexperienced as well. We have done our homework on the Sri Lankan team and hopefully attack the weaknesses and for us improve on our weaknesses.
Pollard said coming to Sri Lanka about ten days ahead of the commencement of the actual tour has enabled the team to get acclimatized to the type of pitches and weather they would experience during the tour.
“We’ve been here for a while. We have tinkered with a lot of different combinations, talked about how we want to approach playing this series. In our final preparations we have a couple of guys we need a final look at and hopefully by this afternoon we’ll know who is actually playing,” said Pollard.
“In our first practice game we tried all our batters to get a hit and acclimatize what we are gonna encounter. The end result didn’t matter to us that much what we wanted was to adapt to the field and the conditions, its different here. We did that and yesterday (Wednesday) we had the official warm-up game of the series where we actually played an 11 and we got about it and 70-75 percent match intensity. We are a good percentage to where we want to be as a team. It’s a matter of coming out tomorrow and trying to execute what we have put into practice,” he said.
DASUN SHANAKA MISSES OUT
Sri Lanka hope to encounter the power hitters from the Caribbean with spin and have named both Wanindu Hasaranga and Lakshan Sandakan in their 12 which means there is no place for hard hitting all-rounder Dasun Shanaka. Shehan Jayasuriya and Niroshan Dickwella are the others left out of the squad of 15.
“It’s a loud ask the key around that no. 7 position that’s the position which is in question. Dasun shapes the batting without a doubt and TP (Thisara Perera) shapes the bowling. If we go with the two spinners we will need a third seamer. So that just gives TP the nod for tomorrow,” said Sri Lanka head coach Mickey Arthur who has a high regard for Shanaka.
“He is getting better. I think he bowled exceptionally well in the T-20s in India, he bowled four overs for 26 in the second game and did a really good job. We’ll just keep working with him. I think Dasun Shanaka is a very good cricketer. He’s got a massive future, unbelievable team man, he trains incredibly hard and he offers options with the bat and the ball.”
Arthur is of the view that Sri Lanka needs to play a brand of cricket where they need to attack and take wickets which he says is the future for the team.
“The key to playing both of them is together they are genuine wicket-taking options for us in the middle. It is what wins you in white ball cricket games now. We are looking to play that brand of cricket where we are looking to attack we are looking to take wickets, that’s the future for the team,” said Arthur.
“For us in terms of our preparation that has been the message, the message has been around attacking. We don’t want to play this defensive cricket anymore. That would be reflected in our selection. And if the two wrist spinners can do the job for us tomorrow it’s going to be fantastic because they will take wickets,” he said.
“Wanindu is a fantastic cricketer the way he bowls the control of his length has been amazing. I really marvel watching him go about his business and then coupled with his batting ability at the back end and his fielding he is making a real name for himself. Sandakan has been around the system a lot longer I think they are in different stages.”
While Arthur wants the bowlers to go on an all out attack on the opposition it not so much with the Lankan batting.
“Batting is slightly different you’ve got to be a little bit smarter and how you go about it. What we’ve done with our batting unit is there is a licence at the top of the order. You got Avishka (Fernando) and KJP (Kusal Perera) dynamic players. KJP will bat at 3 and Avishka will open with Dimuth (Karunaratne).
They will have a little bit of licence to get us through the power play area and in 4, 5 and 6 (Kusal) Mendis, Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva those are the guys that we want to control the overs 11 to 40,” said Arthur.
“Hopefully we’ll have the likes of one of them Thisara Perera and Wanindu to finish. If we could script the perfect game that’s how it could work out but we know that it doesn’t always happen. We’ve got to go into the game thinking that we are going to play our perfect game and it entails the different roles with everybody,” he said.
One of the areas Sri Lanka has worked hard at is the fitness and fielding which has seen a lot of players shed quite a few kilos and look trim on the field. “Our fielding has improved massively. That's testimony to the players and their attitudes. They've bought into where we want to go. And the coaching from Shane McDermott around that has been fantastic. We've been big on the split step. We've been big on trigger movements on the field, just to trigger the guys into action. To see the whole field moving is a massive improvement on where we were when we went to India with that T20 side,” said Arthur. “I am very happy as we sit as a squad. Of course it does not translate. What we need now is to take that preparation to the field. I am very confident that we will get those results. We kind of need the result now just to kick start and consolidate the process and the journey that we are on.”