GALLE - Their top orders are young, neither team has a bona fide head coach, and their boards are forever in some state of turmoil. A West Indies v Sri Lanka series pits against each other two sides that face somewhat uncertain futures.
A series victory for Sri Lanka would help reassure the team's fans the future is not so dim. They have only lost all year. It has been 14 months since they won a trophy of any variety. A series victory for West Indies, meanwhile, would be cause for jubilation, in Jason Holder's first series at the helm. They have not even won a Test in the country, despite Brian Lara's monumental efforts on the island in the 2001 series, and Chris Gayle having struck a triple century at Galle in 2010.
On paper, this is the rare series where Sri Lanka outgun the opposition. Both XIs will feature several men playing for their place in the side, but Sri Lanka arguably have more out-and-out matchwinners. Angelo Mathews, whose batting is sober sometimes, savage on others, has become one of the leading cricketers in the world. Though Rangana Herath's body is now held together mainly by hope, he is still more than capable of devastating oppositions, particularly in Galle.

MATCH STARTS AT 9:30 AM

West Indies' major chance lies with their bowlers. Sri Lanka has become a friendlier place for fast men over the past three years, and with the hosts' top order having proved brittle against movement recently, Kemar Roach may become a key figure to West Indies' hopes. So too Devendra Bishoo; the last two legspinners who toured the island claimed their wickets at less than 20 apiece.
Threatening to spoil the tour, however, is the monsoon, which has begun blowing in from the northeast. It is likely that both Tests will be significantly hindered. Usually, the rains only become heavier through the month.
Lahiru Thirimanne has been one of Sri Lanka's most reliable one-day batsmen over the past year, but has unfathomably been mediocre in Tests - the format he was expected to excel in. He remains in the team on the strength of his potential, but he knows he can't keep living on his talent for long. Having been out for a first-ball duck in the practice match, the microscope is focused sharply on him in Galle.
Having made an encouraging start to his Test career during that rainy 2010 series, Darren Bravo returns as one of West Indies' most experienced batsmen. He has had a modest run this year, having hit two fifties in 10 innings, but the team will be expecting plenty from him on this tour, particularly as he is one of West Indies' better players of spin.
After scoring an unbeaten hundred in the warm-up game, Milinda Siriwardena is likely to debut for Sri Lanka, probably slipping in to the lower middle order, while Thirimanne moves to No. 3. Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep will probably take the new ball. Sri Lanka may consider partnering Herath with Dilruwan Perera, but in the end may opt for Tharindu Kaushal, even if the bowler has recently been shorn of his doosra. He offers less control than Dilruwan, but turns his offbreaks more sharply. Kusal Perera is likely to take the gloves again, and bat at No. 7. Mathews has an ankle niggle that may prevent him from bowling, but he is likely to play.
Devendra Bishoo is likely to return to the XI, having missed the most recent Test, against Australia. They may consider giving left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican a Test debut, but with Marlon Samuels also capable of providing some offspin, may stick with a three-seamer attack. The selectors may also have to decide between Rajendra Chandrika and Shane Dowrich.
SQUADS:
SRI LANKA: Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews (capt), Milinda Siriwardena, Kusal Perera (wk), Dhammika Prasad, Tharindu Kaushal, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Pradeep
WEST INDIES: Kraigg Braithwaite, Rajendra Chandrika, Shane Dowrich, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shai Hope, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Jason Holder (capt), Devendra Bishoo, Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach