West Indies haven't had much to gloat whenever they have visited the Sri Lankan shores. On their previous two tours, when they travelled for a bilateral ODI series, West Indies failed to win even a single game. But recent history suggests that a reversal in fortunes could very well be on the cards. The Caribbean outfit is high on confidence having blanked Ireland 3-0 at home recently but more importantly, they have done well in the subcontinent by the end of 2019 which will keep them in good stead.
Having whitewashed Afghanistan 3-0 in India, West Indies sprung a surprise by defeating India in a convincing fashion in the very first ODI of the three-match series and pushed India deep in the series decider as well. In terms of quality, Sri Lanka are far off from being an established unit compared to India and there has been a constant change in terms of personnel as well. They were just comfortably beaten 2-0 in Pakistan which will give West Indies more hope.
The visitors will still miss the services of Shimron Hetmyer though who played a key role in his side's strong performances in India. The dynamic young batsman has been dropped on fitness grounds and that gives Darren Bravo an opportunity to re-establish himself in the ODI side. It will also add additional responsibility on the likes of Roston Chase, Nicholas Pooran and skipper Kieron Pollard in the middle order against the Sri Lankan spinners and Chase did kick off the tour in style with an unbeaten century in the practice game that the men in maroon won in convincing fashion.
For Sri Lanka, this is a big test. Some of the first-choice players didn't tour Pakistan recently and Dimuth Karunaratne is now back at the helm. Danushka Gunathilaka and Oshada Fernando are ruled out of injuries but allrounder Thisara Perera makes another comeback. There is enough experience in the squad but it has to translate to results in their favour. A win will not only help them get out of their current rut but also will boost their confidence big time ahead of a visit by England next month which will prove to be a challenge bigger than this.
What to expect: A short spell of rain could interrupt the game in the afternoon but it certainly isn't threatening enough. It's been almost three years since this venue hosted an ODI so teams would likely prefer to bowl first because of the unpredictability factor.
Sri Lanka dropped seamer Lahiru Kumara for the opener as they opted for two bowling allrounder in Thisara Perera and Isuru Udana. Kusal Perera will keep wickets.
Squad: Dimith Karunaratne (C), Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep.
The visitors didn't play Nicholas Pooran in the warm-up game but the left-hander is expected to slot into that middle order. Brandon King is likely to get another opportunity to get his international career up and running. Considering Bravo's prowess against spin, he might slot in at number 3 or 4 in the absence of Hetmyer.
Squad: Kieron Pollard (C), Fabian Allen, Sunil Ambris, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh Jnr.