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Weakened Sri Lanka look to evade Gayle storm

Weakened Sri Lanka look to evade Gayle storm

BANGALORE: Troubled champions Sri Lanka will need to tame a rampant Chris Gayle as they face the West Indies in the first major test of their defence of cricket’s Twenty20 trophy here on Sunday.

The Jamaican, who lit up the first World T20 in 2007, showed his powers remain undimmed when he smashed a 47-ball century to lead the West Indies to victory over England on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, winners of the last World T20 in Bangladesh two years ago, have been badly weakened since the retirements of star batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Slumping to eighth in the T20 rankings, Sri Lanka are also in turmoil after changing their coach and captain in recent weeks and following a disastrous showing at the Asia Cup T20.

Sri Lanka were given a morale booster with victory over lowly Afghanistan in their first Super 10 outing on Thursday, when veteran opener Tillakaratne Dilshan smashed 83 off 56 balls.

But they face a much tougher test in Gayle who unleashed a succession of sixes during the West Indies’ stunning six-wicket win over England.

Captain Angelo Mathews, who replaced injured veteran pace bowler Lasith Malinga as skipper on tournament eve, was upbeat, saying his side was capable of “doing anything” if they worked together.

“No matter who you play, you have to be positive. We aren’t looking too far ahead, if we click we can do anything,” he said.

On Saturday, Sri Lanka replaced injured Malinga with 26-year-old leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay as the country moved to defend its World T20 title.

Sri Lanka Cricket said Vandersay, who has played in four T20 matches and taken one wicket conceding 115 runs, was a “potential future sensation”.

He was sent to India a day after Malinga, 32, flew back home from the T20 World Cup in India without having played a single match.

Meanwhile, West Indies coach Phil Simmons has sounded a warning to opponents, saying he expected Gayle to bat in 15 of the 20 overs of every match at this World T20, to set the side up for victory.

“Once you bat 15 overs we are someway near to the target (either) we are setting or chasing,” Simmons said.

He said the 36-year-old, who hit the format’s first international century in 2007, should be placed alongside great Viv Richards on the list of destructive batsmen from the Caribbean.

The West Indies are one of the weakest teams in Test cricket but they remain a force in the shortest format, winning the T20 in 2012 and ranked second in the world.

Teams (from):

SRI LANKA: Angelo Mathews (captain), Jeffrey Vandersay, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Lahiru Thirimanne.

WEST INDIES: Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Carlos Braithwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Evin Lewis.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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