Venue: Coolidge Cricket Ground, Antigua
Date: Wednesday, March 3rd
This is a series that both these squads will be looking to win given that the ICC Men’s T20I World Cup is racing upon us at this point. That tournament will be played in India in late 2021 and the West Indies – the only two-time competition champions – will be looking to defend their title. This is the first meeting of these two teams since March of 2020 and it will begin to show us how both the Windies and Sri Lanka are looking in what is shaping to be a key year for the T20I game.
This will be the first T20I match for the West Indies in 2021 and they will look back to their 2-0 series win in the format over Sri Lanka in March last year to give them some inspiration now they are on their home patch. They are looking to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat in New Zealand in November and it is a squad that will be full of confidence after watching gheir Test counterparts – with a depleted side no less – take down Bangladesh 2-0 in a series that finished in February this year.
The big news is that the legenday Chris Gayle is back in the team after a two-year break. He is far from the only surprise in the squad, with perhaps the biggest being a recall for 39-yar-old paceman Fidel Edwards who last played for the Windies in November 2012. Dwayne Bravo is also back incontention after missing the series against New Zealand. The Windies will be without the trio of Shelden Cottrell, Shimron Hetyer, and Oshane THomas, all who played big parts last March, but all of whom miss out because they couldn’t pass a minimum fintess standard when called to do so by the selectors.
Sri Lanka has not played at T20I since that 2-0 defeat by the West Indies right around when Covid was taking over the sporting calendar last March. This has caused a serious problem for the team, with a number of senior players ruled out either through Covid or through a simple lack of match-fitness given how long it has been since a ball was bowled in earnest.
These problems have hit even the best players in the squad, with captain Dasun Shanaka ruled out because he failed to sort out his visa issues in time to make the plane. It has been that kind of build up for the tourists, one in which anything that could go wrong seems to have fallen on that side of the fence. Look for Wanindu Hasaranga and Ramesh Mendis to star for the visitors during this series.
I would probably lay off of betting on this first T20I as there is still so much unknown about the prepardness of these two squads. The West Indies will most likely win – Sri Lanka depseratly need Shanaka back as soon as possible – but their price at 0.44 with BetXChange doesn’t offer a ton of value. See how this one goes before betting on the later matches in the series and take a flyer on a prop such as Gayle coming in as the top batsman for the hosts at 2.75 to complete a remarkable comeback attempt.