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Sri Lanka vs. West Indies: Second Test Preview

With the West Indies showing glimpses of the grit and determination of the 1970’s side that dominated world cricket, there is everything to play for heading into the Second Test against Sri Lanka this week.

Sri Lanka must have been grateful for some assistance from the weather in Galle last week after the West Indies produced arguably their finest overseas performance since beating South Africa in Port Elizabeth three years ago.

With a captain’s innings of 333 from Chris Gayle, at one point threatening the great Brian Lara’s magical 400 mark, ended by Muralitharan’s apprentice Ajantha Mendis, all eyes will once again be on the tall Jamaican to see if he can set the sub continent alight.

From a bowling perspective, the Windies attack, for the first time in a long time, showed passion and gusto, with Kemar Roach and Shane Shillingford leading a committed bowling display which ended with the home side three runs short of saving the follow-on.

Heading into this Second Test Sri Lanka's major worry will be that of its bowling attack. This is hardly surprising given they have lost Muttiah Muralitaran's devastating spin, while Suraj Randiv wasn't particularly threatening on a docile Galle surface.

West Indies are not without their worries either as their offspinner Shillingford was reported to the ICC for a suspect action, and while still allowed to play in the Second Test will most certainly be under a lot more pressure than normal.

With all of the drama and controversy of the First Test, the Second still holds the ability to be an absolute cracker.

From the Sri Lankan bowling aspect Ajantha Mendis is the one to watch. While he might have been somewhat docile in the opener, his ability to run through the lower order is uncanny. This chap is the favourite with the bookmakers and for a decent reason- he is class. Mendis' success rate has slowed somewhat since the days early in his career when no batsman appeared able to pick him, however now it is time for him to show he can become the leader of Sri Lanka's spin attack.

On the Sri Lankan batting front, one would imagine that the ‘old guard’ will be looking to do better in the Second Test. While the home side’s bowling attack might be wavering, all looks well in the batting lineup with Kumar Sangakarra eager to get out there and turn the screws on a West Indies side dead set on not being the underdogs yet again.

On the Windies batting front, the usual suspects lead the way with ‘Mr Consistency’ Shivnarine Chanderpaul as favourite to top score in any innings. With that said, Darren Bravo had many a fan reaching for the video re-runs, with his batting similarities to certain Brian Charles Lara proving uncanny.

His build, stance, back lift and cover drive spell good things for the men from the Caribbean, yet once must imagine that his luck might be wavering here second time around. Chris Gayle is a long shot to emulate his great innings, because as great as his ability, his utter disregard for his wicket on most occasions will most likely prove his downfall.

Sri Lanka are still dead on favourites to win this Test, however, given the rollercoaster ride of West Indies in recent years, to be entering the Second Test of an away series on level terms isn't an achievement to be taken lightly.

If the West indies batting uses their top order’s form, and gets the same support from it’s bowling attack as at Galle, this series could result in a classic. 

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