The Caribbean side will need at least a draw to win the test series against a ‘shell shocked’ Sri Lanka side in the historic day/night test in Bridgetown, Barbados starting today.
This match will be the first day/night test in the Caribbean and only the 10th of its kind with Sri Lanka winning their sole match and West Indies losing their two outings in the conditions.
West Indies currently lead the series 1-0 after winning the first test in Trinidad and holding on for a draw in the second test which was affected by the weather and bad light.
The home team has seen Shannon Gabriel unsettle the Sri Lankans through brutal fast bowling reminiscent of the glory days of the past while the visitors have been plagued with fitness problems, injuries and not to mention a ball-tampering issue in what could be deemed a horrid return to the Caribbean in 10 years. By virtue of the ball tampering fiasco, Sri Lanka skipper, Dinesh Chandimal will miss the test as penalty for the ball tampering. He lost the appeal which was held yesterday.
Sri Lanka has been heavily dependent on Chandimal as one of their leading batsman who averages 76 in the series.
He scored an unbeaten 119 in the first innings of the second test and his batting will be sorely missed.
Meanwhile West Indies’ fans have a lot to cheer for with Gabriel averaging just 13 runs per wicket and already getting his best bowling figures as well as 17 wickets in just two matches. Gabriel has found support in Kemar Roach with eight wickets.
With Shimron Hetmyer despite not playing a match in the series heading home due to illness, his replacement, Keemo Paul is a very handy pacer and could be in line for a test debut.
Paul was recently named West Indies emerging player of the year and has already featured in the One Day and T20 teams.
The 20 year old averages just over 17 and could find himself in the team at the expense of Miguel Cummins who went wicket-less in three of the four innings he has played in the series.
Paul could also add depth to the batting as he has proven to be capable, already notching up a first-class century.
With the likes of Jason Holder, Devindra Bishoo, Paul and Roach the bottom order looks even stronger should they be needed to spend a lot of time at the crease.
Lahiru Kumara has been the stand out bowler for Sri Lanka with 11 wickets and is likely to lead the attack with Suranga Lakmal as the other bowler Sri Lanka will look to in search of 20 wickets to level the series.
The batting for the West Indies is also in good form with Shane Dowrich one of three batsman to score a century, while Devon Smith scored 61 in his last innings despite just 28 total in his previous three on his return to the test side.
Kraigg Braithwaithe will be pressured to perform with only 100 runs under his belt in the series so far and with only one fifty at this venue, his home, the pressure increases. Roston Chase averages 77 at Bridgetown, the best amongst West Indies in the squad while Holder has found it better, averaging 30 with the bat and taking 13 wickets in three matches.
Apart from Chanidmal, only Kusal Mendis who has scored 238 runs in the series so far has over a hundred runs with Niroshan Dickwella being the other batsman with over 50 runs.
The first ball bowls off 15:00h.