Toss Sri Lanka opt to bat v West Indies
Sri Lanka made a surprise move, dropping Rangana Herath for the second Test in Gros Islet, in favour of a debutant seam bowler Kasun Rajitha. Having won the toss and decided to bat first on a track he felt was full of runs, captain Dinesh Chandimal said the omission of Herath was “tactical”.
While Sri Lanka have strengthened their batting order, fielding seven specialists, their attack – on paper – looks substantially weakened. Not only have they dropped their most-successful bowler, the attack also features three bowlers with 10 Tests or fewer.
Akila Dananjaya (one Test) is the lone specialist spinner as Dilruwan Perera too has been left out. Rajitha, the right-arm seamer, makes his Test debut in place of the injured Lahiru Gamage. The other two men in the frontline attack are Lahiru Kumara (10 Tests), and Suranga Lakmal.
On the batting front, there are no major changes. Mahela Udawatte, the opening batsman, makes his debut. Dhananjaya de Silva also returned after sitting out of the first Test. This could mean Kusal Perera, who was the stand-in opener in Trinidad, is likely to move down the order, with the two fresh entrants into the side likely to feature in the top three alongside Kusal Mendis.
West Indies, meanwhile, are going in with an unchanged XI, allowing Devon Smith one more shot at the opening position. Shimron Hetmyer will remain in reserves.
Herath’s exclusion for the second Test was hinted at by the Sri Lanka selectors before the tour, but the reason they gave was that he would be left out of one game to manage his workload. Herath, however, has only played two competitive games since February (including the Trinidad Test). His returns in the first Test were 3 for 119.
West Indies: 1 Kraigg Brathwaite, 2 Devon Smit, 3 Kieran Powell, 4 Shai Hope, 5 Roston Chase, 6 Shane Dowrich (wk), 7 Jason Holder (capt.), 8 Devendra Bishoo, 9 Miguel Cummins, 10 Kemar Roach, 10 Shannon Gabriel
Sri Lanka: 1 Kusal Mendis, 2 Mahela Udawatte, 3 Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Roshen Silva, 5 Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), 6 Kusal Perera, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Suranga Lakmal, 9 Akila Dananjaya, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Lahiru Kumara
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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