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After suffering a 3-0 series loss in the ODIs, West Indies came back strongly to defeat Sri Lanka by 25 runs in the first T20I at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
The second and final T20I of the series will be held at the same venue on Friday. It’s a must-win game for the hosts who haven’t had the best of times in the 20-over format recently. In fact, they have lost their last six completed T20I matches. On the other hand, West Indies will want to wrap up a series win and build some momentum ahead of the 2020 ICC T20 World Cup.
Cricket.Com Editorial Team
Ground Details and Team Combinations
Wednesday’s match was the fourth T20I that Pallekele has hosted since 2019. The pitch seemed to favour the batsmen on Wednesday with as many as 367 runs scored in 39.1 overs. While the Sri Lankan fast bowlers bowled a lot of slower deliveries, Oshane Thomas’ pace was more effective in the second half of the match. The West Indian pacer took five wickets from three overs during the Powerplay.
In the four T20Is that have been held in Pallekele since 2019, the batting average is 22.4 while a wicket has fallen every 16.5 deliveries which are moderate numbers.
When it comes to bowling strike rate in Pallekele, there is very little to separate pacers and spinners in recent matches. But it must be noted that while spinners have been consistent here, the stats of pacers have been skewed greatly by Lasith Malinga’s 5/6 against New Zealand and Oshane Thomas’ 5/28 in the first T20I of the ongoing series.
Going by recent stats at this stadium, we can expect a good contest between bat and ball in this match. Therefore, it’ll probably be wise to keep a good balance of batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders in your team.
On Wednesday, Andre Russell returned to the West Indies T20I team for the first time since August 2018 and he showed his class with the bat with a quickfire 35. He also made an impact with his bowling as well, taking one wicket, thereby showing his all-round skills once again. In 52 T20 matches since the start of 2019, Russell has notched up 1218 runs at an average of just below 40. He also has taken 47 wickets, which is just less than one wicket per match.
Our first x-factor is Wanindu Hasaranga. While he has been highly impressive with the ball in his young T20I career so far, Hasaranga is also turning out to be a reliable batsman for Sri Lanka. On Wednesday, after Sri Lanka found themselves 58/5, the 22-year-old helped the hosts get back into the game by forming a superb partnership with Kusal Perera. While his knock of 44 didn’t guide his team to a win here, just last week, Hasaranga had scored an unbeaten 42 to inspire Sri Lanka to victory in the first ODI of the series against the West Indies.
Lendl Simmons is currently enjoying a golden run of form. Since September 2019, he has scored 996 runs at an average of just below 40. What’s interesting is that he has been batting at a very good strike rate as well. While his career batting strike rate in T20 cricket is 119.34, that number since September 2019 is 144.1.
Avishka Fernando was dismissed for just seven in the first T20I, but he has been in really good form recently. In the ODIs against West Indies, he scored 206 runs in three innings which included one century and one fifty. In 19 T20 innings since August 2019, Avishka has notched up 559 runs at an average of just under 30.
Before creating your team, you might also want to check out the following graphs which show how the performances of players from the two teams have varied based on what has happened at the toss over the last couple of years.
Looking at these graphs, one gets an idea of how many fantasy points a batsman gets compared to the number of deliveries faced per dismissal and how many fantasy points a bowler gets compared to the number of overs they bowl per innings.
Please note that all fantasy points are per the points system used on the FanFight App.
If Sri Lanka bat first, Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera can be good picks for your team. As you can see from the graph below, while they tend to spend time at the crease, they also score good points in fantasy cricket.
When West Indies bat first, Simmons tends to bat deep and hence ends up getting good points. On the other hand, there are Russell and Kieron Pollard who can score many points despite spending lesser time in the middle.
Kusal Perera is among Sri Lanka's top points scorer even when batting second. In our suggested team given above, we have preferred Nicholas Pooran as our wicket-keeper, but there's little to choose between the two stumpers playing in this match. Interestingly, Thisara Perera has done very well with the bat when batting second.
Even when batting second, Russell and Simmons are two batsmen who perform well for the West Indies.
When Sri Lanka bowl first, Lakshan Sandakan has performed exceptionally well. In the first T20I, he took one wicket but was a bit expensive.
Most West Indian bowlers tend to perform well when bowling first in a T20I.
Lasith Malinga and Wanindu Hasaranga have shone when Sri Lanka bowl second. It's probably not a surprise with the former as he is a top bowler during the death overs and with teams batting second trying to chase down big totals, there's no bowler you rather have at your disposal.
Rovman Powell's stats are a bit skewed in the graph below because of his performance in the first T20I on Wednesday. Also, please note that Dwayne Bravo has bowled second just once during the time period considered.