HARARE, Zimbabwe – Emerging players are expected to jostle for permanent places as West Indies launch a fresh effort to revive their cricket fortunes on the heels of back-to-back series losses which climaxed on a high with a rare Test triumph over Pakistan.
West Indies are playing Sri Lanka in the second match of a One Day International (ODI) Tri-series series at Harare Sports Club starting Wednesday at 3:30 a.m.
Missing from the regional squad are batsman Marlon Samuels, wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, allrounder Kieron Pollard as well as Darren Bravo who was axed from the tour for an outburst on Twitter, criticizing the WICB president.
Their absence clears the way for the likes of batsmen Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Shai Hope and wicket-keeper batsman Shane Dowrich to step-up.
“Most of the guys are in a good frame of mind. We have a few guys here who have come away from that recent Test tour and have been in the one day side,” said captain Jason Holder after Tuesday’s training session at the Harare Sports Club.
“We have some new faces and new energy. So it’s a situation where we need to ride on that and use that as a motivation. Everybody is hungry for success”.
Sri Lanka have already drawn first blood in the series after easily disposing of Zimbabwe by eight wickets with 153 balls remaining in the opening match on Monday.
The Windies are hoping to open the series on a triumphant note, inspired by their recent Test win over Pakistan, which ended a miserable tour of the United Arab Emirates in which they lost series in all three formats- Test, ODI and T20 Internationals.
“We had a really good series earlier in the year with Australia and South Africa and then just faltered a little bit against Pakistan in UAE,” recalled Holder.
“I think everybody’s mind here is fresh. We had a good chance to review and look back at our mistakes and our shortfalls in the previous one-days. So I expect a really good contest tomorrow from our guys against Sri Lanka”.
Sri Lanka, like West Indies, are also short on experience and are expected to rely on captain Upul Tharanga who has 189 matches to his credit as well as Kusal Perera.
The young in-form batsman Dhananjaya de Silva could prove crucial in the series.
Opener Johnson Charles with 44 ODIs to his name is the most experienced batsman for West Indies but the likes of Hope and Dowrich who have been in good nick with the bat lately are expected to use the series to advance their claims.
“I am just looking to do what I know and just maximize my abilities. And just get a great tour. We are definitely going to be focused,” said Charles.
“We are a young team, we are looking to gain experience and move up the chart. So we are going to be looking to push and push hard. All hands on deck and hopefully we will get the tournament going on a good start”.
The Sri Lankans are said to be familiar with Zimbabwean conditions but the West Indies players have had an opportunity to carry out their own assessment as well.
The Caribbean side held a full training session this morning in preparation for tomorrow’s opening match.
“The conditions are not too bad. From what I have seen. The net pitches are a bit on the slow side but until I have gotten to the middle I would just have to assess and see how it goes,” Charles said.
And the Windies skipper added: “I had a good look at the pitch earlier today and I felt the pitch was very good. I saw the game between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and it looked to be a very good wicket as well.”