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    April 01, 2007

    West Indies - Sri Lanka Preview

    Sri Lanka and the West Indies will battle on Sunday at the brand new Providence Stadium in Guyana. While both teams are coming off a loss, Sri Lanka will be coming off a near miracle win against South Africa, while the Windies will be coming off two thumping defeats.

    When Sri Lanka Bats.

    The Sri Lankan batting line up is a deep one that will want to prove itself after being bowled out for 209 against South Africa. With Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka have a settled and established opening pair that can destroy any bowling attack. The middle order comprises captain Mahela Jayawardene, the exciting wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara, the consistent Chamara Silva, who already has three fifties in this tournament and veterans Tillakaratne Dilshan and Russel Arnold. Bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Farveez Maharoof are both capable with the bat and add to the depth of the line up.

    Maybe this is a big assumption, but we're going to assume that captain Lara, who apparently pushed for Lendl Simmon's inclusion over Jerome Taylor, will see the error of his ways. Taylor's absence was felt big time after the Windies had a small total to defend against New Zealand in Antigua. Before the tournament, we had pointed out that the Windies might rue not having the pace of Fidel Edwards, but to leave out Taylor as well was simply inexplicable. Daren Powell, who has been a revelation during the tournament, and Taylor will need to take wickets early, otherwise there is precious little venom from the other bowlers in the squad. If wickets can be had early then Collymore/Bradshaw, Bravo, Smith, Gayle and Samuels can then apply pressure to precipitate the fall of wickets.

    When the Windies Bat.

    16, 9.33, 32.33, 25.33, 14.33, 22.67, 16.33. Those are the averages of Messrs. Gayle, Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Samuels, Bravo, Ramdin and Smith respectively against the "bigger" teams, ie. Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand. Sarwan's average is a bit inflated by the 'chancy' knock of 49 against Pakistan. Those numbers underscore the West Indies' problems so far. The batsmen, with the exception of Lara, who averaged 50.33 in those matches, have not produced. Against New Zealand, Simmons was brought in to try to prop up the batting. That cannot be the solution however. The names listed above have the class and talent to produce at this level. It is time for them to step up, or if not, then be replaced.

    In Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka possess three top notch bowlers who can each be match winners. When these two teams last played in qualifying for the 2006 Champions Trophy, the West Indies were nailed by Maharoof, who took 6 for 14 as the Windies were skittled out for 80. The conditions at Providence have favoured the bowlers early on in the two matches played there so far. If the West Indies are inserted to bat first, then things could get ugly very quickly for the Caribbean men.


    Maybe all is already lost for this World Cup. Empty seats, even for the home team. A financial disaster for those banking on the commercial favourite, India. The murder of a beloved coach. However, just maybe, if the Windies start winning then maybe we will see some of the Caribbean vibes that this World Cup was supposed to be about. Just maybe.

    (Cross posted from Rain, No Play)

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    Thus spake Sean @ 9:04 AM |
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