COUNTDOWN TO 1ST T20 – CONTRASTING BLENDS
It is indeed a contrasting countdown to this opening T20 contest. If hosts West Indies by all accounts seem to hold the aces with head coach Phil Simmons all out slogan that this is the series his players will be on the drill up to gelling their ideal world cup cast perhaps best driven home by the recall of giant hitter Chris Gayle, a passionate plea in the Sri Lankan camp from head coach Mick Arthur to the young players on tour to come good certainly does spell out the making of the two sides.
From a West Indian view point this is the moment of truth for a well-blended cast that has been in the thick of it in a telling build up over the years. Therein, Antigua would be the battle lines to what Coach Simmons looks to that ultimate culmination to the cup overflowing – of seeing his team in the giant size groove of world cup delivering heights. That that giant with the bat Chris Gayle, back after 2 years has himself reportedly added to that ideal cast the coach is aspiring to by saying that the West Indies immediate hurdle on the way to the big extravaganza would be to pocket three titles does rant a ‘give them beans’ type of message to the Lankan camp.
That the Lankan head coach Mick Arthur has made a virtual passionate plea to the young bucks who have made the tour does indeed sound out the urgent need for the team to come good where his expectations center around the young guard that this is the moment for them to avail themselves of the opportunity to make it to the final eleven and make their presence count. That the pep talk to his charges come in an assessment of the ups and downs with the Lankan coach bemoaning not having the services of the appointed captain by itself does reflect the difference between the two sides on paper that he is looking to see a champion emerge from among the young hopefuls.
For the record, the West Indies did get the better of Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka 2-nil in 2019 when the two sides last met which would be a bad digesting stand in captain Angelo Mathews and his players would be wanting to see the back of.
In the final assessment, while a well-oiled host team carries the edge on their home track, Sri Lanka does possess players capable of delivering in a mixed cast of the experienced and some promising amateurs.
SRI LANKA SQUAD:
Angelo Mathews (Capt.), Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilake, Dinesh Chandimal, Oshada Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Wanindu Hasaranga, Suranga Lakmal, Tissera Perera, Kamindu Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Ramesh Mendis, Ashen Bandara, Akila Dhananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka.
WEST INDIES SQUAD:
Kieron Pollard (C), Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Rovman Powell, Lendl Simmons, Kevin Sinclair.