West Indies Tri-Series 2013: Wounded West Indies seek to advance to the final
With India surging back into contention with a bonus point securing 102 victory over the hosts on Friday, the Tri-nation series has been thrown wide open. What appeared to be a damp squib tournament has roared into a raging, incandescent fire. West Indies, who seemed assured of a berth in the final now face a realistic, albeit slender scenario of being knocked out.
The hosts still are on top of the table with 9 points whilst India and Sri Lanka are tied on 5 points. A win for Sri Lanka on Sunday will tighten the screws further as it will atleast put them on par with West Indies, leaving India to either beat Sri Lanka comfortably and shore up the net run rate or capture another bonus point win to advance to the final .
West Indies, who seemed like deers caught in the headlights of a powerful vehicle, were simply blown away by the World Champions on Friday. West Indies’ bowling was mediocre but it was their batting that suffered a bigger meltdown. As if that wasn’t enough, regular captain Dwayne Bravo has been slapped with a one game suspension following a second minor over-rate breach within 12 months. All-rounder Lendl Simmons has been called up to replace Bravo, an indication that he will be a direct replacement for Bravo.Their malfunctioning middle order comprising of Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard is a major cause for worry. The Calypso Kings are heavily reliant on Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles.
In all likelihood, Kieron Pollard will lead the side for the second time in 3 games. Darren Sammy was given the new ball against India in a smart move and it will be interesting to see if that pattern continues, considering Tino Best’s erratic bowling. Kemar Roach too has been wayward,ill-advisedly bowling far too short. Meanwhile, Sunil Narine, who had hurt his finger has regained full fitness for Sunday’s crunch encounter.
Sri Lanka peaked in all three departments against India. All the bowlers chipped in with wickets to wreck India’s chase, the fielders were on the prowl and their batting was so dominant that out of 3383 ODI’s played till date, Sri Lanka’s 348-1 was the highest total amassed while conceding a lone wicket. Upul Tharanga, who was only included in Sri Lanka’s squad because of Tillakaratne Dilshan’s injury has arguably reignited his ODI career. The way the southpaw paced his innings during his record-breaking 174* was commendable.
Mahela Jayawardene’s fluency and form(197 runs at an average of 65.67) bodes well for the team. The bowling department falls into the safe hands of Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara. The spin twins, Rangana Herath and Sachitra Senanayake are adept at strangulating the opposition in the mid passage of play.
West Indies: C Gayle, J Charles, Darren Bravo, M Samuels, D Smith/ L Simmons, K Pollard(c), D Ramdin(wk), D Sammy, S Narine, K Roach, T Best
Sri Lanka: U Tharanga, M Jayawardene, K Sangakkara(wk), K Perera D Chandimal, L Thirimanne, A Mathews(c), L Malinga, N Kulasekara, S Senanayake, R Herath
Players to watch:
M Samuels:A player of high calibre, Marlon Samuels has struggled to get going in this series. The team management will want him to come into his own and add heft to the middle order.
A Mathews: Mathews has shone with the bat and ball even as he is learning the ropes of captaincy. He is an precious asset for Sri Lanka, more so in limited overs cricket.
Prediction: West Indies will narrowly beat Sri Lanka in-front of a boisterous crowd to claim ownership rights for the final.