BACK HOME! - West Indies take on Sri Lanka in 1st T20 today in Antigua
The coronavirus pandemic has certainly jolted the sporting world, with cricket being no exception. The new bio-secure playing conditions have become the new norm, and the sport’s governing body has had to reshuffle and reschedule matches and tours.
August 2020 would have been the West Indies’ last home T20 assignment against South Africa. However, fast forward to the present, and the regional side will now play their first home T20 international match in Antigua today at 5:00 pm (Jamaica time) at the Coolidge Cricket Ground
Sri Lanka are the first international side to grace the shores of the Caribbean in the pandemic era and they square-off with a West Indies side that is eager to put the disappointment of their recent T20 3-0 away drubbing to New Zealand behind them.
So much so is the importance of the three-match series, that the West Indies have called upon T20 veterans Chris Gayle and Fidel Edwards to join their already impressive cast of T20 stalwarts, to get the better of their Sri Lankan counterparts.
With the ICC World T20 tournament slated for later in the year, West Indies captain Kieron Pollard believes the team not only needs to win matches, but the series, as they look to build momentum heading into the rest of the year.
“Everything is geared towards the World Cup, which is far away, but winning is a habit and it’s everything. We need to find a way to start to win cricket matches and other things will come into play. The main thing is for us to go on the cricket field and try and put consistent performances together for longer periods, “said Pollard.
The West Indies captain is stressing the importance of the team’s top-order batting unit, which has not sparked in recent times. That new top order could include the likes of Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Andre Fletcher and Chris Gayle.
“We want consistency from the top four batters, because, they have more opportunities to face the most deliveries, and then the other guys can come in and finish off the innings or the game,” added Pollard.
With the Coolidge Ground being small in dimension, head coach Phil Simmons is mindful of the conditions.
“The key to winning the T20I series on this size ground is how we can limit their batsmen. There are two sides here, there is a big side and there is a small side. There is a breeze,” said Simmons. “How early we access that and how we bowl to that is going to be the key, because, on these grounds, we have batsmen right down the order who can hit the ball and we need to ensure that we bowl well and we field well.”
Sri Lanka’s batting line-up could include the likes of opener Danushka Gunathilaka, Oshada Fernando and stand-in captain Angelo Mathews, with the bowling unit comprising Suranga Lakmal, Thisara Perera and PWH de Silva.