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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Cricket

West Indies, Sri Lanka out to challenge champions India
AFP
Kingston, Jamaica, June 27, 2013
First Published: 07:36 IST(27/6/2013)
Last Updated: 16:43 IST(28/6/2013)

With India enjoying an additional 48 hours to bask in the glory of their Champions Trophy triumph, West Indies and Sri Lanka get the Tri-Nation One-Day International Series underway on Friday at Sabina Park.

Both teams have points to prove after being steamrolled by the ODI kings over the previous fortnight in England.

For the Sri Lankans, this fixture marks just the second time that they are playing an ODI at major international cricket's westernmost venue.

The only other occasion came at the 2007 World Cup when Mahela Jayawardene's unruffled unbeaten hundred led his side comfortably past New Zealand in the semi-finals, only for them to be upended by hat-trick-seeking Australia in the final three days later in Barbados.

West Indies were the first to feel the weight of India at their best at the Champions Trophy at the group stage of the competition before missing out on the last four agonisingly when Kieron Pollard's dismissal just before the rains came at Cardiff left the Caribbean side trailing South Africa on the Duckworth-Lewis System.

While no-one wants to have to return to the sometimes bewildering formulae and calclulations necessitated by Duckworth-Lewis, it will be no surprise if batting second and then staying ahead of the par score becomes a priority during the seven matches of this tournament.

An increasingly crammed international itinerary, coupled with the scheduling of the money-spinning Indian Premier League at a time when the West Indies would usually have been in action on home soil, means that this event follows the pattern of recent years with the almost ever-present threat of showers accompanying a series.

Yet whatever the conditions overhead, it is the situation on the ground that Ottis Gibson wants his team to focus on.

Despite the acute disappointment of the manner in which they missed out on a place in the Champions Trophy semi-finals, the head coach of the T20 world champions asserts that the players under his care "are taking more responsibility and are starting to believe a lot more" that they can go all the way in major competitions.

Having retained the same squad from the Champions Trophy, with the exception of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Jason Holder, the West Indies will again be looking to Chris Gayle to provide the firepower and momentum at the start of their innings.

The additional motivation for the imposing opening batsman being that the will be performing in front of his fellow Jamaicans.

Despite the tag of cricketing bridesmaids increasingly becoming a millstone around the necks of the Sri Lankans, captain Angelo Mathews dismissed speculation as to his team's mood after falling short again at the Champions Trophy.

"We have played some really good cricket, beating England and Australia. Confidence is pretty high," he noted, adding that the absence of Tillekeratne Dilshan through injury will give one or two fringe players an opportunity to shine.

In such a short tournament - the first non-bilateral series played in the regional by ICC full-member nations since Pakistan and Zimbabwe toured together in 2000 - there is little room for manoeuvring in the event of early setbacks.

So even if there is an element of fatigue on what is becoming an almost non-stop international cricketing treadmill, personal and professional pride are bound to come to the fore and ensure a competitive edge.

Teams:
West Indies: Dwayne Bravo (captain), Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Devon Smith, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Tino Best, Kemar Roach.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (captain), Kusal Perera, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanne, Mahela Jayawardene, Jeevan Mendis, Ajantha Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Sachithra Senanayake, Rangana Herath, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Shaminda Eranga.

Schedule:
June 28 - West Indies vs Sri Lanka - Jamaica

June 30 - West Indies vs India - Jamaica

July 02 - India vs Sri Lanka - Jamaica

July 05 - West Indies vs India - Trinidad

July 07 - West Indies vs Sri Lanka - Trinidad

July 09 - India vs Sri Lanka - Trinidad

July 11 - Final - Trinidad.


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