West Indies have dominated them in the ODI series, but the final match offers a chance to redeem pride
Sri Lanka’s tours over the past two months have a sense of haunting familiarity to them. Key players are absent due to various unfortunate reasons (on this tour, Lahiru Kumara couldn’t make it because he contracted Covid-19, Dasun Shanaka’s visa didn’t come through, and Angelo Mathews has had to return home for personal reasons). The players that remain have shown fight at times, putting together decent partnerships, occasionally stringing together some solid spells. But the series wins have eluded them. Since December, Sri Lanka have lost all matches apart from that one T20I last week.
West Indies, meanwhile, have been propelled by their openers. In two matches, they’ve struck a century apiece, and the lowest score either has been dismissed for is 65. Hope’s quality has been obvious for some time, but Lewis has been particularly impressive this series, showcasing a more measured approach to his batting than we are used to seeing from him.
Their success has also been down to the variety in their attack, and Jason Mohammed’s offspin in particular, has made a substantial impact. He’s taken 5 for 59 in the series so far, and on Friday was instrumental in keeping Sri Lanka pinned to the wall through the middle overs.
Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies: WWLLL
Sri Lanka: : LLWWW
In the spotlight
Hope might be West Indies’ premier ODI batsman for now, but 24 innings in, Nicholas Pooran is putting together a mighty ODI record too. He needs 33 more runs to complete 1000 in ODIs (if he does it in the next two innings, he’ll be the third-fastest West Indian to the milestone, behind Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge). On Friday, he was nerveless in the final over, which West Indies needed nine from, punishing even slight errors of length from Nuwan Pradeep. A batsman who is both adept at rotating the strike against spin, as well as blasting the quicks, Pooran seems set to be a middle-order force for West Indies for a while.
Shai Hope and Evin Lewis have been on fire this series AFP/Getty Images
Like many young Sri Lanka batsmen, Danushka Gunathilaka has had a long and at times difficult internship in the national team, but are there signs he is finally getting things together? He’s been easily Sri Lanka’s best batsman in the series so far, putting up scores of 55 off 61 and a run-a-ball 96. Part of his recent success has been because he has hit fours – along the ground – more frequently and proficiently than he ever has, and has put away some of the riskier aerial strokes. Sri Lanka desperately need Gunathilaka to become a consistent performer at the top of the order – something they haven’t had since TM Dilshan’s retirement.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch for the third ODI is likely to be batting-friendly, as the surfaces for the first two were. The weather is forecast to be good for the duration of the match.
West Indies may be tempted to give Kevin Sinclair or Kyle Mayers a game, though as ODI Super League points are on the line, there is the temptation to play their best XI even for this dead rubber.
West Indies (possible): 1 Shai Hope (wk), 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Jason Mohammed, 5 Nicholas Pooran, 6 Kieron Pollard (capt.), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Romario Shepherd, 9 Fabian Allen, 10 Akeal Hosein/Kevin Sinclair, 11 Alzarri Joseph
Dasun Shanaka becomes available for this game, so it is possible he comes in. Though as he’s fresh out of quarantine, that’s not a guarantee.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt.), 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Pathum Nissanka, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 5 Ashen Bandara, 6 Oshada Fernando/Dasun Shanaka 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Lakshan Sandakan, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Nuwan Pradeep
Stats and trivia
West Indies’ spinners have taken seven wickets in the series (Mohammed claiming five of those). Sri Lanka’s spinners only have a solitary breakthrough, to Lakshan Sandakan.
Shai Hope (194 runs, average 97) and Evin Lewis (168 runs, average 84) are the two top-scorers of the series, both striking at around 80.
Pooran has played five innings against Sri Lanka and averages 61.25 against them. This is his highest average against any nation.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf