West Indies vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Galle, Nov 21 – 25 2021, West Indies tour of Sri Lanka
Chris Gayle scored his iconic 333* in Galle, Brian Lara hit 351 runs in one match in Colombo, and 688 in that three-match series, but this has to be one of cricket’s most surprising facts: West Indies have never won a Test in Sri Lanka. Yes,that’s right. We are not talking about this decade or the previous. The whole cricketing history. That’s what we are talking about here.
West Indies View Point
Let’s face it. West Indies were the most dominant side in the 80’s. However, since they did not play on the island in their roaring 1980s – Sri Lanka too weak to attract them then perhaps, and too volatile geopolitically to have had a consistent touring schedule anyway. But still, since 1993, these teams have clashed eleven times in Sri Lanka; they have drawn just four of those games – three on a severely rain-affected tour in late 2010.
On paper, this doesn’t seem like the West Indies team to finally open their account, but it is clear this is an improving team. Their batting, for one, looks better than it did in 2016, when they last toured Sri Lanka. On their most-recent tour to South Asia, West Indies had pulled off a chase for the ages, debutant Kyle Mayers hitting 210 not out as West Indies hunted down 385 in Chattogram. They won the second Test, in Dhaka, too. In the next series, against Sri Lanka, in the Caribbean, they established substantial first-innings leads in both matches, even if they would eventually have to settle with draw.
Sri Lanka View Point
Sri Lanka might not be as strong as the Sangakkara-Jayawardene period but tests are still probably their safest format. But there is a little instability around this squad that could hypothetically make them vulnerable to defeat. This series sees the return of several senior players – including Angelo Mathews – who had felt slighted during the months-long contracts standoff the players were involved in, with the board. This is also Mickey Arthur’s final Test series as coach, and the likes of batting coach Grant Flower, and bowling coach Chaminda Vaas, aren’t guaranteed their positions into next year either.
Expected Conditions: Spinners have dominated at Galle and that trend is expected to continue. That being said, the rainy conditions since last few days might favor the pacers early on.
Sri Lanka: 1 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt.), 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Oshada Fernando, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 7 Ramesh Mendis, 8 Suranga Lakmal, 9 Lasith Embuldeniya, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Praveen Jayawickrama.
West Indies: 1 Kraigg Brathwaite (capt.), 2 Jeremy Solozano, 3 Nkrumah Bonner, 4 Roston Chase, 5 Jermaine Blackwood, 6 Kyle Mayers, 7 Rahkeem Cornwall, 8 Jason Holder, 9 Joshua da Silva (wk), 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Jomel Warrican/Jayden Seales