Windies skipper says execution key in Sri Lanka series


Windies skipper says execution key in Sri Lanka series

Saturday, February 22, 2020

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CMC) — Ahead of today's One-Day International (ODI) series opener against Sri Lanka, West Indies Captain Kieron Pollard says the team will be focused on executing the game plan and improving overall as an outfit.

The West Indies, ranked nine in the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI rankings, will face their number eight-ranked opponents at Sinhalese Sports Club here, as they chase their first ever ODI series win on Sri Lankan soil.

Pollard has already said he believes the Caribbean men, who last met Sri Lanka at the ICC Cricket World Cup in England last July, can close the gap in the rankings — in which the two teams are just one point apart — but that will not be the only focus.

“Coming out tomorrow we will look to execute what we have been doing in training. Sometimes we take a lot and look into the rankings. They are eighth and we are ninth,” Pollard said yesterday afternoon before a training session.

“It's about how you play and what you want to achieve. Both teams are in a position of rebuilding or trying to find the best way to play their ODI cricket. It's also about who can absorb the plans and look to get it right. This will be a very good series. It will be keenly contested because that's what the rankings say.”

Pollard, who is in his fourth series in charge since being appointed last September, said the opposing team, led by Dimith Karunaratne, has some “exciting guys in their line-up” and West Indies will be prepared for them.

“They have a young captain in their ranks. We have done our due diligence and we will look to attack [their weakness] and look to improve on our weak areas, and play to our strengths,” he said.

It has been more than four years since the two teams locked horns in a bilateral ODI series. The West Indies' last tour of Sri Lanka in 2015 ended in a 3-0 whitewash.

And the regional side has had mixed results in the build-up to the series, losing the first warm-up in Colombo but winning the second against President's XI.

They are entering this series on the back of a scratchy 3-0 series victory against Ireland at home last month, following a clean sweep against Afghanistan in November.

Despite losing 2-1 to world number one India in both the ODI and T20 series last December, the Windies skipper said playing the world's number one team had helped his side.

“When we were in India we took everything in stride...It's the way you want to play the cricket, the way you want your team to develop and progress…the consistency of what you want to do and how bad you want success,” said Pollard who is preparing for his 111th ODI appearance.

“The mettle the guys showed in India gave us that blueprint of how we really want to and need to play going forward against whatever team we play against. So we have that set and it's just a matter of ticking boxes.”

All-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who has come out of retirement, is back in the squad following some strong performances on the domestic scene, along with Rovman Powell and Fabian Allen who has overcome a knee injury.

But West Indies will be playing without Shimron Hetmyer and Evin Lewis, two of their regular features, after the duo failed to clear fitness tests.

Responding to questions about the message he wanted conveyed to the players, Pollard said: “Conversations would have been had with those individual players, so the players and the messages are clear when it comes to that...The way how we want to do things, some things are personal and some things we let the team know when it's needed to be known.”

Today's match bowls off at 9:45 am local time (12:15 am Eastern Caribbean Time/11:15 pm Friday Jamaica Time).

The second match will be played on February 26 at Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium, Hambantota, and the series final will be on March 1 at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

The two sides will then go on to play two T20 Internationals: March 4 and 6 at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

FULL SQUADS: West Indies – Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Sunil Ambris, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh Jr

Sri Lanka – Dimith Karunaratne (captain), Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara

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