Hosts look to improve after a poor display in the first Test
The first Test match lasted all five days and it could not have been more exciting. There were a number of sharp 180 degree turns in the game, not least the second innings performance by Sri Lanka, who scored 476, to set up a shot at victory against the West Indies Test team.
The hosts on the other hand, faded away as the Test progressed and were unlikely to chase down the target required to win. However, they did just about enough to draw the Test in the end.
Both teams will be looking to put in a better display in the second Test, in order to win both the game and the series. The second Test will take place at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium at North Sound in Antigua between Monday the 29th of March and Friday the 2nd of April.
It feels as if Lahiru Thirimanne might finally be coming into his own in Test match cricket, after a woeful start to his career. In his first 36 games, the left-hander had only scored 1452 runs at a batting average of 22.69. However, in his last three games, Thirimanne has scored a century against England at Galle and also a pair of half-centuries against West Indies at Antigua.
The West Indies will need to keep him in check at the top of the order, if they are to restrict Sri Lanka’s batting line-up, particularly with the likes of Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella to follow – both of whom have a lot of experience.
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Holder’s honourable mention
Like Thirimanne, Jason Holder was excellent in both innings for the West Indies. In a scintillating performance during Sri Lanka’s first innings, he picked up 5 wickets, conceding just 27 runs in 17.4 overs. He wasn’t able to replicate such wicket-taking ability in the second innings, but he did keep scoring relatively tight, only conceding 40 runs in 22 overs.
However, Jason Holder will be looking to contribute more with the bat in the second Test. He only scored 19 in the first innings and did not get to bat in the second. Now that Kraigg Brathwaite is captain, he has less responsibility and it will be interesting to see how he performs in the long term without the added pressure. He has started well, though.
Another flat track?
The pitch was by no means flat at the start of the game, as scores of 169 and 271 by Sri Lanka and West Indies respectively illustrate. However, the pitch flattened out and both sides were untroubled towards the latter half of the Test. Both Pathum Nissanka and Nkrumah Bonner made centuries in the third and fourth innings of the game respectively.
Should the second Test produce another track that flattens out, a result could be hard to come by and the series may end in a draw. This is perhaps the last result that fans and players would likely want.
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Changes for either side?
Sri Lanka are likely to go in unchanged, given their fight back and overall superior performance in the Test. The middle-order came to the fore in their second innings and this is unlikely to be tinkered with.
The West Indies on the other hand, may decide that they need to play an extra spinner, in order to try and negate the slow and turgid tracks that are reducing the effectiveness of their fast bowlers. Shannon Gabriel could make way for Jomel Warrican in the West Indies Test team.
Sri Lanka Test team: Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Pathum Nissanka, Niroshan Dickwella (WK), Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Embuldeniya, Vishwa Fernando.
West Indies Test team: Kraigg Brathwaite (C), John Campbell, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, Jermaine Blackwood, Joshua Da Silva, Jason Holder, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph, Jomel Warrican/ Shannon Gabriel.
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