West Indies’ rehearsal for WT20 title defence begins with Sri Lanka test today

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West Indies will face Sri Lanka in three T20 Internationals, the first of which is today (Wednesday) in Antigua. With the core of the expected World T20 squad present for the West Indies, it will be an ideal chance to start fine-tuning player roles.

In 2012, it was Sri Lanka West Indies defeated to win their first of two World T20 titles. Two years later, they knocked out West Indies in the semi-finals and went on to win it in Bangladesh.

Now they meet again to kickstart their preparation for WorldT20 in India, this October.

The shorter the format, the more West Indies become favourites, and the short boundaries at Coolidge Cricket Ground will be a delight for the power-hitters.

All three T20Is of the series will be played at the same venue, which is hosting international cricket for the first time.

The majority of the West Indies players just concluded the Regional Super50 where numerous matches were played at Coolidge.

Recent history favours West Indies- when they toured Sri Lanka in March last year, they won both of the T20s.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons is also looking at this series as a step to start firming up the squad for the T20 World Cup later this year.

The series will also mark the return of 41-year-old Chris Gayle and 39-year-old Fidel Edwards to the West Indies squad.

Gayle last played for West Indies in the ODI home series against India after the 2019 World Cup, while Edwards’ last international appearance was in a Test in Bangladesh in 2012.

Guyanese all-rounder Kevin Sinclair at training this week (Photo: CWI Media)

Uncapped Guyanese off-spinner Kevin Sinclair could make his debut and partner Fabian Allen in the spin department. Sinclair’s role with the new-ball and his miserly economy rate are what catapulted him to the squad.

With Shimron Hetmyer absent, Lendl Simmons could drop one to the number three position, which allows Gayle and Evin Lewis to link up at the top, and the dangerous Nicholas Pooran at four, and possibly skipper Kieron Pollard at five or six.

Jason Holder should shoulder Andre Russell’s absence with the ball, while it will be interesting to see if crafty left-arm pacer Obed McCoy gets to play.

Angelo Mathews has been named as Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain for the T20I series in the West Indies as Dasun Shanaka, the appointed captain, is yet to join the team because of a delay in obtaining a US transit visa.

Mathews has previously led Sri Lanka in 34 Tests, 106 ODIs and 13 T20Is.

Today’s match starts at 18:00h and the other two T20Is will be played on Friday and Sunday from the same time.

West Indies T20 squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabien Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Rovman Powell, Lendl Simmons, Kevin Sinclair.

Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (ODI captain), Dasun Shanaka (T20 captain), Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Ashen Bandara, Oshada Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Thisara Perera, Kamindu Mendis, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Nuwan Pradeep, Asitha Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananajaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Dilshan Madushanka, Suranga Lakmal.

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