COLOMBO - Sri Lanka have had an abysmal year in ODIs. The last time they won an ODI series was against England at home, and let's be fair, that barely even counts. They lost the ODI series in New Zealand 4-2, crashed spectacularly out in the World Cup quarter-final, and have since lost to Pakistan.

But they are now up against a side that has arguably had an even worse 2015 - partly because they have barely had the chance to play any ODI. West Indies were defeated 4-1 by South Africa at the beginning of the year, memorably lost to Ireland in a World Cup campaign which also came to an end in the quarter-final, and they have not played since. During their down time, West Indies were elbowed out of the 2017 Champions Trophy.

Match starts at 2:OO PM

Jason Holder's men now set out to regain something of their reputation - to prove that they can still be a force in limited-overs cricket, even if Test-match excellence is some way off. There are a few bright sparks in the side, as partially evidenced by the visitors' stirring comeback in the practice match on Thursday. In that game, Carlos Brathwaite and Andre Russell - batting at nos. 8 and 9, cracked 193 runs together off 109 balls, to propel the team beyond 300. West Indies may not yet have a side that can prevail over five days, but they still have limited-overs cricketers who can scramble oppositions.

Though West Indies ' trial by spin is likely to continue on a Khettarama surface known to turn up dry on match day, they will be pleased that Rangana Herath - chief among their banes in the Tests - will not play. Instead, Sri Lanka are set to field a more fragile spin attack. Sachithra Senanayake has been a diminished bowler since remodeling his action last year, Ajantha Mendis has often been exposed by powerful hitting, and legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay is yet to play an ODI.

Sri Lanka 's batting appears much sturdier than the visitors' top order, but is awash in inexperience, and as such, is hardly infallible.

Lasith Malinga bowled so poorly against Pakistan, he was eventually dropped from the XI for the last match of that series. His T20 returns were no better. Having been visibly unfit since his ankle surgery last year, Malinga has lost a little of the accuracy and pace that once envenomed his bowling.

He is Sri Lanka 's T20 captain for now, and with a major tournament on the horizon, fans will be intrigued to learn whether Malinga can still make top orders wobble as much as his belly recently has.

Since Sunil Narine last played an international match, in August last year, he has had his action reported and tested twice by the BCCI. He has been cleared by them to bowl, after adopting a remedied action, which has not been tested at international level yet. With Marlon Samuels also facing suspicion of throwing, Narine's nous and variations will be relied upon on in Colombo.

Sri Lanka may try to shoehorn batting allrounder Shehan Jayasuriya somewhere in the top seven - most likely at No.6, pushing Milinda Siriwardene to No.7. The rest of the top order is fairly predictable. With Jayasuriya and Siriwardene both capable of providing spin, Sri Lanka may opt to include tearaway Dushmantha Chameera, to provide variety to the pace attack. Lahiru Thirimanne is expected to reclaim his place at No.3, after being dropped in the Tests. Dinesh Chandimal is suspended for the first ODI, and is likely to be replaced by Danushka Gunathilaka, meaning there could be two ODI debutants.

It has been so long since West Indies have played an ODI, their XI is much more difficult to predict. Narine looks likely to play, and Andre Fletcher looks likely to open in place of the injured Chris Gayle.


WEST INDIES : Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jonathan Carter, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Jason Holder (capt), Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul

SRI LANKA : Kusal Perera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Angelo Mathews (capt), Shehan Jayasuriya, Milinda Siriwardene, Sachithra Senanayake, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera.