Sri Lanka and West Indies, ranked eighth and ninth in the ICC ODI rankings respectively are all set to go head to head in what is expected to be a battle of equals.
Both sides have a number of match-winners in their side so the first One-Day International, held at Sinhalese Sports Club, in Colombo should be a good contest.
Ground details and team combination
SSC, in Colombo has not been home to a lot of international matches in recent times. The ground has hosted just a solitary ODI since the start of 2017, one where bowlers had the slight upper hand. The surface is likely to play a bit slow so having bowlers in your side who can bowl cutters and slower balls should be ideal.
The fast bowlers have had more success at SSC than their spin bowling counterparts. Out of 19 wickets to fall in the only ODI since 2017, 12 were picked up by pacers at a strike-rate of 23.8. Spinners, on the other hand, struck every 56.4 deliveries.
Right-arm pacers have the best record here closely followed by left-arm fast bowlers and leg-spinners. The likes of Sheldon Cottrell and Nuwan Pradeep should certainly feature in your side while you could also go for the leggie Wanindu Hasaranga for this game.
Shai Hope has been in exemplary form over the last year or so but the main reason why he should be the captain of your side is his record in the sub-continent. In 14 innings in Asia, Hope has struck three half-centuries and five hundreds averaging a towering 124.75. The opener does take his time in settling in but once set, he is one player who can guarantee you points aplenty.
Dasun Shanaka might not make a lot of noise as some of his other celebrated counterparts but the all-rounder is much underrated and gets the job done more often than not. The SSC surface will suit his bowling style and with the bat, there are not a lot of players in the Sri Lankan side who can hit the ball as hard and long as Shanaka. He has been in decent form too since January 2019 averaging in excess of 35 with the bat.
Sheldon Cottrell has been West Indies' premier ODI bowler in the last year or two. The left-arm paceman has taken 36 wickets since the start of 2019, only behind Mohammed Shami, Trent Boult and Kuldeep Yadav. The second best bowlers, well joint-best, for West Indies in this time frame have been Jason Holder and Oshane Thomas who have taken 15 wickets less than Cottrell. The Jamaican is lethal with the new ball considering no other bowler has taken more wickets than Cottrell in the first powerplay since January 2019.
Angelo Mathews might be 32 but he is still one of the batting mainstays of the Sri Lankan team. Since 2019, the middle-order batsman has scored 432 runs in 11 encounters at an impressive average of 48, only behind Danushka Gunathilaka's 58.4. With scores of 87, 52*, 48, 113, 26, 11 and 85* in his last seven innings, Mathews has held Sri Lanka's fragile batting order together. He averages over 84 in ODIs in Sri Lanka, compared to 32.5 in away games. Mathews, however, will have to watchful against Cottrell considering he only averages 28.1 against left-arm pacers, his least against any bowling type.
So, who should you pick in your fantasy team for this encounter? We will go for a combination of five frontline batsmen including the wicket-keeper, three all-rounders and three bowlers in the side.
Shai Hope (c & w/k), Kusal Mendis, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Darren Bravo, Thisara Perera, Kieron Pollard, Dasun Shanaka, Sheldon Cottrell, Alzarri Joseph, Wanindu Hasaranga