The West Indies, on their current tour to Sri Lanka, would be desperate to get off the mark. Or else, the clock is ticking. Truth be told, they already find themselves in a bit of urgency despite two ODIs remaining ahead.
So how is that?
Up first- here’s some background. Since 1975 until (prior to) the start of the 2020 ODI series, the West Indies and Sri Lanka have battled in 58 ODIs. Of these, the West Indies won 28 games whilst Sri Lanka won 27, with 3 games ending in no-results, indicating just how close have the two been against one other.
But after going one-up on their opponents at Colombo, in the first ODI, it could be said the Sri Lankans have fired an equalizer.
The series could now flow in various directions, with practically the West Indies having to cover the longer ground.
Should they lose at Hambantota- Pollard, and men can forget about the ODI series, thinking of it as another dreaded foreign assignment outing which, knowing Windies’ poor reputation as tourists wouldn’t surprise an awful lot. But should they win the next game beginning shortly, it would set things brilliantly for Pallakele, for March 4.
Either way, Dimuth Karunaratne’s side, which finds itself a notch above Pollard’s force in ODI rankings, on 8, would enter this Second ODI with a spring of confidence in its step.
Should Sri Lanka win this contest but lose the third game, they would secure an unassailable lead, which would mean double trouble for Windies. For in addition to having lost the chance to overcome what was an equally fragile and occasionally punchy Sri Lanka, Windies would then be under pressure to avoid a 3-nil whitewash.
Therefore, Sri Lanka versus West Indies Second ODI posits an exciting contest up ahead, where there’ll be different ramifications for both sides despite the eventual results.
So what can be expected during Sri Lanka versus West Indies Second ODI, a contest that most are calling a clash of equals?
Windies will have to pile up the runs, but can they as a team?
What if Hope falls early? Is Ambris-next to no experience of playing in Sri Lanka- the best answer to the Windies’ top-order situation, that’s competing without the destructive Evin Lewis with Hetmyer in the middle?
Fortunately, thanks to Roston Chase’ dogged outing in the first contest, that yielded an 85-run stand in the pivotal middle order, the Windies inning got going after the early blows of Ambris and Bravo. That there was Hope at the other end was a blessing.
But if the team are to score big then given that Pooran- who’s hardly played against Sri Lanka and may falter again- the likes of Pollard and Chase must inject the batting with dependable scores.
While there’s no doubting the Windies captain’s wealth of ODI experience amplified by his ability to muscle the ball, in Chase – fundamentally a Test specialist who’s now shouldering limited-overs responsibility- the Windies have someone who’s top-scored with a 94, that too against a dangerous Afghanistan bowling attack (in a previous 2019 ODI).
Therefore, there’s no dearth of batting talent. But important for them to click should the top-order collapse and Bravo or Hope fail to get going. This will be a big factor to watch during Sri Lanka versus West Indies 2nd ODI.
Will Wanidu Hasaranga again emerge the game-changer again?
The last person that the West Indies would’ve expected to hurt them in the series-opener was a 22-year-old who hadn’t played a game against them before the Colombo ODI.
But that’s cricket, in all its beauty, right? Expecting the unexpected is often what makes the sport a nerve-wracking one. And that was the order of the day in a sheer nail-biter that, truth be told, could’ve gone either way, Windies
Nonetheless, Kieron Pollard and his team would want to ensure that in their must-win game, they manage to get the better of their hosts, instead of having to witness a totally unexpected end as seen in the final-over, first ODI, where a lower-order bat in Hasaranga- although an all-rounder- counter-attacked his way to a brilliant 42 to seal the game in his team’s favor.
At the same time, a key aspect of Sri Lanka versus West Indies 2nd ODI 2020 would be whether the batters can dig in deep and collect a valuable score or chase down a Windies ask drawing a leaf out of the mercurial the leg-break bowler’s book, someone who’s taken 13 wickets from as many ODIs.
Opportunity for Kieron Pollard to improve a horrible SL record
Before taking the field at Colombo for Sri Lanka versus West Indies 2nd ODI 2020, here is something the West Indies captain would’ve certainly have a deep look at- a report card that’s anything but promising to say the least.
Before batting in the 1st game, Pollard report card versus Sri Lanka reads- a pitiable 8 runs from 5 games with the best score of 4, best not to talk about the average.
Then, few overs into the innings, as he came into bat, it didn’t take long for the in-form left-armer Isuru Udana to dislodge the mighty Trinidadian off a shorter delivery: Pollard’s contribution to his side? 9.
Therefore, it goes without saying that never before has the need for a captain- whose own record against an opponent has been dismal- to lead by an example has been greater? Polly, are you listening?
Can Hope continue the fine touch
“Results are temporary but hope to win and overcome challenges are permanent.”
Maybe that’s the mantra that the Windies’ premier run-maker, alongside Darren Bravo, will aim to embody come the second game.
When Hope fired his 9th ODI ton, in the form of his 115 it was also his 6th ODI century gathered in Asia. It just goes to show how much the Barbadian loves playing in these sub-continental conditions, miles away from the home comfort.
But another important part of the fluent right-hander’s knock was that with his vital century, he seemed to have put aside a glitch which had disturbed his usual consistent ways of batting, as indicated by a rather ordinary turnout against the Irish, where the “Hope” of West Indies batting struck a personal best of only 25. Read that again, if you are a fan of one of the most elegant batters currently around.
So should the West Indies find a way to make big runs, something they did at the back of the Bajan’s brilliant hundred against Sri Lanka- also his first against the Island nation (in ODI cricket), it will be imperative that Hope fires.
Can tight bowling become a part of Sri Lanka versus West Indies 2nd ODI?
Isuru Udana is no magician with the white ball akin to an Akram or a Mitchell Johnson. He’s not even close to being quick like Starc. But the man can surely pick up wickets.
But at what cost is what the Sri Lankans must ask of their most successful speedster in the opening game who while removed the likes of the “Centurian” Hope, the dangerous Pooran and the tallest smasher from either side in Pollard but conceded 82 runs in his full spell of 10 overs.
That’s an awful lot especially if the wicket is assisting the batters as Sri Lanka found out soon as the Hope and Chase stand began showing its true colors.
The key thing, therefore, during Sri Lanka versus West Indies 2nd ODI would be whether the lead bowlers can be economical and truncate needless runs.
Make no mistake. On the Windies’ side, Cottrell- who’s usually accurate and consistent in his lines and mix up of deliveries gave away 69 from his 10, emerging wicketless which really hurt his team’ cause.
That said nothing would hurt Windies- who take the game to the very final over- with 5 balls remaining in the game- other than looking at their disparaging extras column.
How can Pollard even expect to challenge the Sri Lankans- who are usually very strong on their home turf- offering as many as 26 extras?
That’s an area the Windies cannot afford at all.
Darren Bravo- can he be the X-factor for his team?
Before he was sent packing thanks to a horrible mix-up in the middle with Hope being at the other end, the famous “other” Bravo- the returning Darren Michael “Lara-in-making” Bravo had already announced his intentions through a stroke-filled 39 off 52 balls, a knock that included 2 exquisite sixes.
That the beautiful knock was cut loose in the first game may still haunt the elegant batsman, who finds himself back in the maroon jersey post an onerous period away from the pitch.
Therefore, it’s absolutely vital from the Windies perspective that Bravo got going in this game.
Meanwhile, removing the number 3 Windies batter would be a top priority for the likes of the wicket-taking trio of Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, and Sri Lanka’s most successful medium-pacer in the current lot, in Thisara Perera.
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