The West Indies and Sri Lanka lock horns on Sunday with the hosts needing to win the game to secure a berth in the final.
Port of Spain: The tri-series thrown wide open by India's emphatic comeback, the West Indies and Sri Lanka will lock horns here on Sunday in their crucial league match with the hosts needing to win the game to secure a berth in the final.
The Caribbean side's two-match winning streak ended with India handing them a 102-run thrashing in a run-truncated match. The result kept India alive even though Virat Kohli's men had lost both their previous matches of the series and denied the West Indies a smooth passage to the final.
The West Indies, however, are still on top in the table with nine points, while the Sri Lankans are tied with India at five points each. West Indies have to regroup quickly against Sri Lanka, who are flying high after demolishing India in their previous game.
But West Indies can draw confidence from their earlier game against Sri Lanka which the hosts won comfortably. West Indies, who seemed like an on-a-roll side, were brought back to the ground rather brutally on Friday. At first their bowlers were hammered by a rampaging Kohli and later their batsmen had no answers to the questions that a disciplined Indian bowling attack posed.
The over-reliance on Chris Gayle's pyrotechnics also stood out as none of the West Indies batsmen showed any resistance after his early departure. Johnson Charles was the only one to give a decent account of himself with a 39-ball 45 but he was also guilty of letting slip a good start.
The Sri Lankan batting, on the other hand, was the most decisive factor in their win against India. Upul Tharanga played a brilliant knock of 174, which included 19 fours and three sixes. Even if he does not replicate that effort, anything similar would be just enough for his team.
Add to this Mahela Jayawardene, who got into the groove with a hundred, skipper Angelo Mathews and Kumar Sangakkara and the Lankan batting order looks formidable from top to middle. On the bowling front, the West Indies pace attack would certainly revel in home conditions but they did crumble when faced with an Indian line-up which was willing to wait and apply itself before going for big shots.
Nevertheless, Kemar Roach and Tino Best would pose a challenge and some magic is also awaited from the spin ace Sunil Narine, if he recovers from a finger injury to take the field on Sunday. Moreover, the hosts regular skipper Dwayne Bravo will miss the tie as he has been suspended for one-match due to second slow-over offence in 12 months.
Sri Lankan bowlers bowled magnificently against India and they would be aiming to continue the good work but a Lasith Malinga special is still to be seen in the series.
West Indies: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles, 3 Devon Smith, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Kieron Pollard (capt), 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Tino Best
Sri Lanka: 1 Mahela Jayawardene, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Angelo Mathews (capt), 6 Lahiru Thirimanne, 7 Kusal Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Sachitra Senanayake, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Lasith Malinga