Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sri Lanka eye record-setting win over Windies

Sri Lanka can kill the proverbial two birds with one stone when they face West Indies in the second and final Test, starting on Thursday at Queen's Park Oval.

When Sri Lanka flew into the region a fortnight ago, they had a single objective on their mind - to win a Test series on Caribbean soil for the first time.

They gained a welcomed boost to their chances when they clinched the opening Test at the Guyana National Stadium by 121 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the brief series.

But there is an extra special reason that Sri Lanka will pursue victory vigorously in the second Test - and that is to become the first side visiting the Caribbean to sweep a Test series of any length.

Australia came close five years ago, when they won the first three Tests in a series of four before the West Indies embarked successfully on a World record 418 to win the final Test at St. John's.

Jayawardene acknowledged that his side outplayed West Indies in every department in the opening Test, but he does not intend to ease up on his opponents.

"We are going to pay attention to all areas of our game, and see where we can tighten-up,"
he said.

"This is how we work. The first Test is finished, and the next venue is totally different, and conditions will be totally different.

West Indies captain Chris Gayle is well aware that his side faces an enormous challenge to win and level the series - but he would settle for a draw at this stage to spare the flak from another failed mission.

"I believe that if we can remain positive and focus, we can win the Test,"
Gayle said. It's a must win situation for us to square the series.

"We'll try and see what Sri Lanka has to offer a second time around both in the batting and bowling, so it is just for us to return to the drawing board, and come up with a plan, and come prepared to play a tough Test."

Gayle would love to make a couple of changes to fortify the West Indies line-up, but the selectors have tied his hands, since they have retained the same squad from the first Test, except for left-hander Ryan Hinds, who will miss the Test because of a hamstring strain which should rule him out of cricket for about two or three weeks.

One of the places up for grabs is the opening slot alongside Gayle - although the West Indies captain dropped down the order in the second innings of the opening Test, he said he would return to the top for the second Test.

With scores of 14 and 10 in the opening Test, Devon Smith failed to cement his place in the side, and left-handed opener Sewnarine Chattergoon should make his Test debut, after illness prevented him from receiving this distinction in his native Guyana.

The only other selection dilemma facing West Indies would be the composition of their attack -Jerome Taylor and Daren Powell should reclaim their places, but the selectors are mulling over whether to boost the attack with another fast bowler, or add a second spin bowler.

Beanpole left-arm spin bowler Sulieman Benn did reasonably well on his Test debut and both Gayle and Head Coach John Dyson favour his retention, but hometown boy Amit Jaggernauth has made strong claims for his first Test cap, following a 10-wicket match haul in a West Indies domestic first-class match against Barbados over the weekend.


West Indies (from): Chris Gayle (captain), Ramnaresh Sarwan (vice captain), Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sewnarine Chattergoon, Fidel Edwards, Amit Jaggernauth, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Marlon Samuels, Devon Smith, Jerome Taylor.

Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jaywardene (captain), Kumar Sangakkara (vice captain), Ishara Amerasinghe, Tillakeratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Prasanna Jaywardene, Nuwan Kulasekera, Muttiah Muralitharan, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Thilan Thushara, Chaminda Vaas, Michael Vandort, Malinda Warnapura, Chanaka Welegedera.

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