First Test preview: Sri Lanka v West Indies


Sri Lanka and the West Indies have not faced each other in a Test match since 2010, and have only played 15 such matches against each other in total, so the first Test in Galle will be an unusual sight.

More suited to short format cricket in recent years, both with World Twenty20 titles to their names, the teams play the first of two Tests as fragile units, with both undergoing behind the scenes drama this year.

The West Indies have a new captain in young Jason Holder, with former skipper Denesh Ramdin still in the team, but they're without the likes of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard due to conflicts with the board.

Chris Gayle isn't in the side either, as his back and hamstrings are not up to five days of cricket, leaving Kraigg Brathwaite as the most experienced opener. Rookies Jomel Warrican and Carlos Brathwaite have been called.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have undergone a number of recent changes, including the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara, leaving skipper Angelo Mathews with a young an inexperienced side. They are also without a permanent coach.

Bowling-wise, they are strong though, with Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera leading the spin attack. Tharindu Kaushal is included, despite being banned from bowling his doosra. Pace-wise, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera return from injury.

This may all be relatively moot though, as the weather has not cleared up as it should by October. Rain is forecast quite strongly for every day, meaning a draw could be on the cards. Their last series in Sri Lanka, in 2010, saw all three games end in a stalemate.

Key Men

For the hosts, skipper Angelo Mathews will be vital is all areas. Strong with the bat, key as a fourth seamer, and leader on the field, the captain needs to wrangle his players into a cohesive unit for a change, unlike their last three Test series.

The Windies will look to Marlon Samuels for all-rounder experience. He's kept well out of the way of contract dramas, hence being picked for this even though he was part of the India tour abandonment. He'll need to be careful of his bent bowling arm though, as he's been cited before.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results

2010 Third Test: Match drawn in Pallekele
2010 Second Test: Match drawn in Colombo
2010 First Test: Match drawn in Galle
2008 Second Test: Windies won by six wickets in Port of Spain
2008 First Test: Sri Lanka won by 121 runs in Providence


Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne (vice-capt), Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Tharindu Kaushal, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera

West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Kraigg Brathwaite (vice-capt), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Rajindra Chandrika, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Jomel Warrican

Dates: 14 – 18 October
Morning session: 10:00-12:00 (04:30-06:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:40-14:40 (07:10-09:10 GMT)
Evening session: 15:00-17:00 (09:30-11:30 GMT)

On-field umpires: Richard Illingworth and Marais Erasmus
Third umpire: Simon Fry
Match referee: David Boon