An unbeaten century by Dimuth Karunaratne and half-centuries from Pathum Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva put Sri Lanka in a position of strength at 267-3 at stumps of the opening day of the first Test against the West Indies in Galle on Sunday.

West Indies debutant Jeremy Solozano was taken to the hospital after receiving a blow on the helmet while fielding during the opening day of the Test series against Sri Lanka.

The 26-year-old had to be stretchered off the field after being struck by a pull shot from Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne.  The incident happened during the fourth delivery off spinner Roston Chase’s over that had seen the player deployed at the short-leg position.

Shai Hope was brought in as the replacement after the injured player left the pitch.  Solozano was reportedly responsive while being taken to the hospital and is currently undergoing scans.  Cricket West Indies has promised to give further news on the player’s condition as soon as it becomes available.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat first Sri Lanka were 163 for 1 at the end of the second session.  Pace bowler Shannon Gabriel claimed the team’s only wicket so far after dismissing Pathum Nissanka.

West Indies middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood will be looking to score heavily during the team’s upcoming series against Sri Lanka and believes the rest of the team is in a similar mindset.

The last time the batsman was in Sri Lanka for a Test series was in 2015 where he fell just short of a century with 92 in Galle.  His performance was not good when the teams met earlier in the Caribbean this year but believes he can set things right on a ground where he will have good memories.

“To be honest, I try to stick to my strengths.  Now, I’m starting to understand my game a lot better than I did in the past.  I really know my game inside out now,” Blackwood told members of the media.

“The last time I played there I played more attacking to be honest because I was batting at a proper level.  This time around if I get a chance I can bat longer for the team and score more runs.  I not looking to just score a century or a half-century, I’ll be looking to push it beyond that.  So, hopefully, if I get in on this track, I can score a lot of runs for the team.”

In four series to date, the West Indies are yet to win a  match in Sri Lanka.

West Indies newcomer Jeremy Solozano insists the focus will be on ensuring he contributes to the team rather than worry about cementing a spot in the squad, with a potential debut against Sri Lanka on the cards.

The 26-year-old is tipped to make his debut as an opener against Sri Lanka when the series gets underway on Saturday.  The position at the top of the order has been a problematic one for the Caribbean team in recent years.  The struggle has been to find a consistent partner for captain Kraigg Brathwaite. 

The likes of John Campbell, Kieran Powell, Devon Smith, and briefly Shai Hope have all played in the position but failed to deliver the required performances.

With neither Powell nor Campbell in the squad and Hope unlikely to be tried in the slot again it appears to be a golden opportunity for the young opener to stake his claim.  For the moment, however, it isn’t a primary focus.

“I’m feeling confident.  Once given the opportunity I will do my best for the West Indies,” Solozano told members of the media on Friday.

“There’s not really any pressure with the environment I’m in, it’s about going out there to enjoy the game.  I believe once you enjoy your game and training and everything, everything will fall into place,” he added.

A debut against Sri Lanka could be a steep step up for Solozano who has managed just 40 first-class matches with an average of 23.41.

“Once given the opportunity I’ll contribute to the team as much as possible, doing what the team requires in the given situation.”

 

 

 

West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite claims the team is eager to buck the trend of typically poor performances in Sri Lanka when the teams meet in Galle later this week.

Since 1994, the teams have played 10 series between them, with the West Indies winning two and Sri Lanka winning three.  The rest have ended in draws.  None of the West Indies wins have come in Sri Lanka.  In fact, the West Indies are yet to win a match in Sri Lanka and suffered a 2-0 loss on their last visit in 2016.

Brathwaite believes the current squad, who did experience some success on the continent in February with a win over Bangladesh, is capable of finally breaking this long-running trend.

“I was here in 2016, my first series here and we lost both matches.  As a youngster it didn’t feel good just coming into the team.  Now I’m looking forward to these games, I think we have a very good team,” Brathwaite told members of the media on Thursday.

“This team is ready to go, and we are ready to break the shackles and win some games in Sri Lanka this time around,” he added.

The West Indies face Sri Lanka in a two-Test series in the Caribbean earlier this year, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

 

 

West Indies coach Phil Simmons and Captain Kraigg Brathwaite have both backed wicketkeeper/batsman Joshua Da Silva to return to form during the upcoming two-Test series against Sri Lanka later this month.

David Warner, Jos Buttler and Babar Azam are among those to have been named in the Official ICC Men's T20 World Cup's Team of the Tournament.

The T20 World Cup came to a close on Sunday after Australia beat New Zealand by eight-wickets in the final in Abu Dhabi.

The team was selected by a panel of commentators and journalists.

"As with any team selection there will be varying opinions, and robust discussion on the final composition of the squad," one of those panellists, Ian Bishop, told the ICC's official website. "The panel respects that, and we encourage the strong debate that will ensue.

"This team was incredibly difficult to select over such a highly competitive tournament. Selections were based predominantly on the Super 12 onward to the final.

"We endeavoured to select players as close to their initial team position where possible. This intention was not always a reality, as some compromises had to be made.”

The team includes players from champions Australia, runners-up New Zealand, as well as England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa. 

 

David Warner (Australia)

Arguably the most obvious selection as the man who was the ICC's Player of the Tournament. Despite questions about his form before the World Cup, Warner scored an impressive 289 runs at an average of 48.16.

Although he did not top the table for most runs, highest innings or highest average, Warner's impact was unquestionable. His 65 against Sri Lanka, 89 not out against West Indies, 49 against Pakistan in the semi-finals and then 53 in the final were vital for the champions.

Jos Buttler (England)

The hard-hitting Buttler was the only player to score a century at the tournament, while he finished fourth in the list for most runs. His tally of 269 included a fantastic 71 from 32 balls in England’s Super 12 victory over Australia, as well as his 101 not out against Sri Lanka.

Babar Azam (Pakistan)

The top run-scorer and only player to break the 300-run mark (303), Babar has been named as captain of the ICC Team of the Tournament. He scored four fifties at his first T20 World Cup, starting with his 68 not out against old rivals India, which helped lead Pakistan to a memorable 10-wicket victory.

Charith Asalanka (Sri Lanka)

Asalanka came fifth in the list for most runs, which is impressive when you consider Sri Lanka exited at the Super 12 stage. The 24-year-old scored 231 runs at an average of 46.2, including an unbeaten 80 off 49 balls against Bangladesh.

Aiden Markram (South Africa)

Moved to a middle-order role for this tournament, Markram seemed to thrive as his 40 off 36 balls nearly saw the Proteas beat Australia in the Super 12s. An unbeaten 51 from 26 balls against West Indies and 52 off 25 against England was, though, not enough to help South Africa progress.

Moeen Ali (England)

England's ever-reliable all-rounder took seven wickets from his 14 overs during the tournament, as well as hitting 92 runs at an average of 46.

Moeen's bowling figures included 2-17, 2-18 and 2-15 to heap pressure on opponents throughout, while his batting performances included a fine 51 from 37 balls against New Zealand in the semi-finals.

Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka)

Leg-spinner Hasaranga was comfortably top of the wicket-taking chart with 16, three ahead of Adam Zampa and Trent Boult in joint-second.

This included a hat-trick against South Africa, but like Moeen, Hasaranga also contributed with the bat, striking a vital 71 against Ireland in the first round and a defiant 34 from 21 balls against England in the Super 12s.

Adam Zampa (Australia)

Another spinner who could not be left out, Zampa took 13 wickets and averaged just 5.81 runs against per over, often keeping the run rate down impeccably in the middle overs. The 29-year-old, who his captain Aaron Finch labelled as the player of the tournament, can also boast the best figures of the World Cup with a tremendous 5-19 against Bangladesh.

Josh Hazlewood (Australia)

Like his team-mate Warner, Hazlewood did not top any individual tables but came through with big performances when they were needed. His 11 wickets included a 4-39 against West Indies that played a big part in sealing a semi-final place, before the paceman took a ruthless 3-16 in the final.

Trent Boult (New Zealand)

Boult was the top wicket-taking seamer at the tournament (13) and played a huge role in getting the Black Caps to the final. His average of 6.25 overs conceded per over was impressive considering he was mostly used during powerplays and at the death.

Anrich Nortje (South Africa)

Nortje took a wicket in every match he played at his first T20 World Cup, taking nine overall at an average of 11.55. His most noteworthy contribution was an explosive 3-8 from 3.2 overs against Bangladesh to help skittle the Tigers out for just 84.

12th man: Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)

The 21-year-old burst into the World Cup with his pace bowling, removing Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli in Pakistan's opening game against India. Afridi took seven wickets overall, earning him a spot as first reserve in this star-studded team.

Emerging young West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales is looking to build on a promising start to his Test cricket career when the team faces Sri Lanka in its upcoming series.

The 20-year-old has been a revelation for the regional team, since making his debut against South Africa earlier this year.  In four games so far, the young bowler has claimed 16 wickets, including a five-for against Pakistan in August.

On debut, Seales impressed with his ability to swing the ball at pace and also the consistency and quality of his length deliveries. 

“I was satisfied with my performances in my debut series and the series after that but it just for me to look to build on those performances now and try to improve in the areas that I can improve in,” Seales told members of the media on Saturday.

On his first overseas tour, the bowler faces unfamiliar conditions on the subcontinent, which typically favours spin bowlers, but he remains determined to try and make an impact.

“For me it’s just about trying to go out there and execute my plans as best as I can, to try and work with the conditions and see what I can get done for the team.”

West Indies batsman Jermaine Blackwood will be looking to impact the upcoming series against Sri Lanka perhaps even by taking a with a ball.

The middle-order batsman’s previous encounter against the Sri Lankans earlier this year did go quite to plan after managing just 42 runs in two matches with a high score of 18.  Ahead of the upcoming series Blackwood who admits to being a better frame of mind this time around is determined to set things right.

“To be honest, the last time I played Sri Lanka my mind wasn’t right at that time, but now my mind is fully there, so, I’m looking forward to a very good series,” Blackwood told Windies cricket.

Despite not typically being a threat with the ball, Blackwood believes he might even be able to make an impact with the ball, should the surfaces in Sri Lanka live up to their usual reputation of being more friendly to slower bowling.

“I always tell the skipper that I want to bowl a few overs because I have the golden arm.  As you can see, I always get one of the wickets.  So it will be very interesting this series if I can get a few overs.”

West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite is expecting a strong performance from the team’s pace bowlers in Sri Lanka, despite conditions on the subcontinent tending to favour spin bowlers.

The last time the regional team faced Sri Lanka away, in 2015, it was the part-time spin of Brathwaite that stole of as the batsman claimed six wickets in an innings.  The frontline pace bowlers Kemar Roach (2), Jason Holder (3), Shannon Gabriel (1) failed to have a huge impact on the series, with the exception of Jerome Taylor who claimed 6 over two games.

Although the captain admits the surface is likely to favour spinners, Brathwaite is confident the Windies quicks will have a big role to play.

We haven’t been there as yet to see the surface but there’s always a role for the fast bowlers.  Shannon Gabriel really led the way in Bangladesh in the first Test, bowling with some good pace, then Kemar Roach getting an early wicket in the morning was very crucial.  Obviously, Jason wasn’t there but is always crucial.  So, I do believe that possibly there being spin-friendly pitches, I think the pace bowlers will do well.

“I can see them getting wickets.  It’s really about building pressure but seamers are very important and obviously, Shannon will bring some aggression and I look forward to seeing the guys operating.”

When the West Indies began their training sessions in Colombo on Thursday in preparation for their two-Test series against Sri Lanka later this morning, there were several areas of immediate focus for the players.

Among them, combatting the home side’s dangerous spinners.

Head Coach Phil Simmons, in his first media session on Thursday, revealed that successfully playing Sri Lanka’s spinners was high on their list of priorities like it was in Bangladesh where the West Indies emerged 2-0 winners over the home side in February.

“I think there will be a heavy dose of spin coming from them because we saw it when they played England they even opened the bowling with a spinner, so we are going to be focusing a lot on how we combat that spin with the new ball and then bat as normal after that because we played spin alright in Bangladesh,” Simmons revealed.

“We did what we had to do to score the runs we needed and to win the games, so we need to bring that same sort of mentality we had on that away tour and preparation today started like that.”

Doing well against Sri Lanka’s spinners, Simmons explained, could prove to be crucial to time the West Indies batsmen spend at the crease, rotating the strike and not losing wickets playing rash shots out of frustration at being bogged down.

That also will be something he and his players will pay some attention to, Simmons revealed.

Rotating the strike will be “definitely an area of focus, especially when you’re playing against quality spinners,” he said, “you have to continually change their mode, especially if we have left and handers at the crease so it is something that we are going to be discussing and putting into practice.”

The West Indies will play a four-day warm-up match in Colombo starting on Sunday, November 14 because they take on Sri Lanka in the first of two Tests beginning on November 21 at the Galle International Cricket Stadium.

The second Test is set to begin on November 29 at the same venue.

  

 

 

 

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard has admitted that the senior players simply did not deliver as the team crashed out of the T20 World Cup, on Thursday, following a loss to Sri Lanka.

In a disappointing campaign, the defeat was the third in four games for the two-time defending champions, who in truth since the first ball was bowled never looked likely to mount a strong title defense and were barely clinging to semi-final hopes ahead of the Sri Lanka match-up.

Heading into the tournament, the team had highlighted its experience as a major advantage with several players in the team having won multiple world titles.  In reality, however, things never really panned out.  T20 star Chris Gayle, a controversial selection for the squad, made 30 runs in four games for an average of 7.50.  Lendl Simmons made 19 over two matches for an average of 9.50, Andre Russell, who came into the tournament with an injury, made 7 runs in four matches for an average of 1.75.  Pollard did slightly better with 46 runs at 15.33, while Dwayne Bravo claimed two wickets in four matches.

"A couple of young guys are putting up their hands (up) but the experienced guys, myself included, have not done well. We are not going to hide from the fact that it's been disappointing for us,” Pollard said following the match.

On Thursday, it was indeed the younger generation who stood up to be counted. Shimron Hetmyer was the team’s top scorer with 81 from 54, followed by Nicholas Pooran who scored 46 from 34.

"I'm sure all the guys are hurting in that dressing room. It's something we didn't see it coming but we have to face reality," Pollard added.

"I think we were below par. In a crucial match like this, you don't want to see those things (for fielding). Our bowlers did okay, they got 189 but it was a very good batting track.

"I think cricket smarts is something that has plagued us. We have spoken time and time again especially from a batting perspective what we need to do as individuals and we have not done well.”

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) Selection Panel today announced the West Indies squad for the Test Series in Sri Lanka.

The Selection Panel named one uncapped player in the 15-member squad – Jeremy Solozano, the left-handed opening batsman – following the two recent three-day Best v Best matches and training sessions at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua.

Roger Harper, Lead Selector said: “The Best v Best matches provided the opportunity for the players to spend some time in the middle honing their skills for this tour. The aim was to simulate as much as possible, the conditions that the team will likely face in Sri Lanka, so it was good to see the batsmen spending time at the crease while putting some scores together and the bowlers looking to build pressure and create wicket-taking opportunities,” Harper said.

“Jeremy played for the West Indies ‘A’ Team in 2019 (against India ‘A’) with success and in the Best v Best matches he displayed a sense of application, patience, and composure while looking very comfortable against both pace and spin which encouraged the panel to invest in him at this point.”

Harper added: “The squad is well balanced, with good depth in all departments. The composition is very similar to the squad that brought us success in our last away tour to Bangladesh, with a few changes in personnel. There are a number of players who are familiar with Sri Lankan conditions and most of the others have good experience in the Indian sub-continent, so they know what to expect and are gearing themselves for it.”

Both Test matches will be played at the Galle International Stadium. West Indies will have a four-day warm-up match in Colombo from November 14 to 17. The Tests will follow on November 21 to 25 and November 29 to December 3.

The series is the second of six series, three at home and three away, that West Indies will play in the 2021-2023 ICC World Test Championship. Please see ICC World Test Championship table here: https://bit.ly/3EcJXpV

 FULL SQUAD

Kraigg Brathwaite (Captain), Jermaine Blackwood (Vice-Captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Jeremy Solozano, and Jomel Warrican.

Charith Asalanka further enhanced his burgeoning reputation as Sri Lanka ended West Indies' reign as T20 World Cup holders with a 20-run victory on Thursday.

The Windies needed two resounding wins to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals, but a third loss from four games dashed the holders' hopes of qualifying.

Asalanka (68 from 41 balls) became the leading run-scorer in the tournament as Sri Lanka posted an imposing 189-3 at Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Pathum Nissanka (51 from 41) and Asalanka put on 91 for the second wicket, with the Windies bowling attack lacking potency in a must-win game.

Dasun Shanaka also made a quickfire unbeaten 25 for a Sri Lanka side already out of the running to qualify from Group 1.

The holders fell short on 169-8 in their run chase despite a T20I-best of 81 not out off 54 balls for Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran's 46 in their penultimate match of the Super 12 stage in Abu Dhabi.

Sri Lanka were excellent in the field, Wanindu Hasaranga (2-19) once again the pick of the bowlers as they moved two points ahead of fifth-placed West Indies with a victory in their final game of the tournament.

A third loss from four matches for the two-time champions ensured the Windies will head home after facing Australia on Saturday, leaving Aaron Finch's side, leaders England and South Africa to fight it out for a top-two finish.

 

Asalanka and Nissanka leave Windies facing tall order

A semi-final spot proved to be beyond Sri Lanka, but they bow out with positives to take from the tournament, Asalanka and Nissanka standout performers with the bat.

The 24-year-old Asalanka struck a brilliant unbeaten 80 in the defeat of Bangladesh and gave another demonstration of his class, hitting a six and finding the rope eight times.

Asalanka moved above England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler - who has only been at the crease four times - to become the highest run-scorer in the tournament so far with 231 at an average of 46.20 from six innings and Nassanka is second with 221, averaging 27.62 from eight knocks.

 

Hetmyer fireworks in vain as Sri Lanka sign off in style

With Chris Gayle falling for only one, Andre Russell only making two and captain Kieron Pollard out for a golden duck, it was left for Hetmyer and Pooran to give the Windies some hope.

The defending champions never really looked like chasing down their target, but Hetmyer produced some fireworks as he blasted four sixes and hit eight fours.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Chamika Karunaratne took brilliant catches, with Sri Lanka superb in the field. Hasaranga, the top-ranked T20I bowler in the world, leads the way in the tournament with 16 wickets.

 West Indies captain Kieron Pollard believes Thursday’s crucial T20 World Cup clash against Sri Lanka represents an opportunity for the team to break free from its shackles, so to speak, particularly as it relates to the batting line-up.

To say a West Indies line-up, filled with explosive batting talent, has struggled to ignite so far seems a bit of an understatement.  The team began the tournament being bowled out for 55 by England, then collapsing to 143 against South Africa after a promising start.  The team got 142 in a win against Bangladesh but have yet to put in a convincing display at the crease.

With a run rate of 1.598, the team has the worst run rate in Group I and the third poorest overall.  After three matches Evin Lewis is the team’s leading scorer with 68 runs but that total is not in the tournament’s top 15.  Having lost two of its first three games and low run rate the team is on the outside looking as it relates to their chances of staying in contention for the semi-finals.

“The guys are confident, we know exactly what’s needed from a run rate perspective and we’ll take all things into consideration when that match starts,” Pollard told members of the media on Wednesday.

“I believe it’s very important that we try to go through the process of trying to improve each and every game as a team and especially from a batting perspective,” he added.

“It’s an opportunity now, guys can kind of take off the shackles that have been kind of holding us back in terms of our batting performances, there’s no secret about that.  Having said that the first thing to think about is winning the cricket game.”

 

 

 

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