Sri Lanka will hope to get back to their winning ways © AFP
Sri Lanka will hope to get back to their winning ways © AFP

Sri Lanka will enter a new era when they take field against the West Indies for the first Test at Galle on Wednesday. It will be their first full series without the services of their batting stalwart Kumar Sangakkara. The team, captained by all-rounder Angelo Mathews, will have their task cut out against the young but spirited side from the Caribbean. The Sri Lankans are going through a phase of transition. After losing two of their biggest players in Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara, they are rebuilding at the moment and trying out quite a few youngsters. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: Sri Lanka vs West Indies 2015, 1st Test at Galle

It has been a difficult period for the Sri Lankans, where they have consistently lost at home over the last two series. They first lost to Pakistan, when the leg-spin of Yasir Shah proved too hot to handle. Then came the Indians, who beat them from behind to take the series 2-1, this time falling like nine pins to the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra. Now they face West Indies, a side which has its own problems to deal with.

Sri Lanka are not expected to make too many changes to their side that played India in August this year. Though both Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne did not do anything special against India, both are expected to continue opening the innings. The middle order will comprise of the solid trio of Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, and skipper Angelo Mathews. The island team would bank heavily on these three to deliver. Chandimal’s heroics in the first Test against India, where he single-handedly tonked the Indian bowlers and won the match with his majestic 162 not out, are still fresh in the minds of people from Galle, the venue of the first Test. They would be hoping he turns out with a similar performance against the West Indies.

All-rounder Milinda Siriwardena, who slammed an unbeaten 105 in the tour game against the West Indies, is all set to make his Test debut. Siriwardena, who already has played 5 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and 2 Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) for Sri Lanka, is set to play at No. 6. Kusal Parera too picks himself after a memorable debut against India in the third Test, where he got fifties in both innings. The wicketkeeper will bat at No. 7 and provide for an explosive option lower down the order.

In the bowling department, pacers Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep should make it to the playing XI quite comfortably. Prasad, who had an on-field altercation with Ishant Sharma, will lead the Lankan attack. The spin-duo of Tharindu Kaushal and Rangana Herath complete the playing XI. Kaushal, who has been banned from bowling the doosra in international cricket due to an illegal action, will continue to bowl his stock delivery the off-break, which has been declared legitimate. Their fortune, however, would depend upon their workhorse Herath, who has won them games aplenty. Sri Lanka will look to the seasoned campaigner to get them the early momentum in the series. COMPLETE COVERAGE: West Indies tour of Sri Lanka 2015

Sri Lanka likely XI for 1st Test (in batting order): Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews (c), Milinda Siriwardena, Kusal Perera (wk), Dhammika Prasad, Tharindu Kaushal, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Pradeep

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with Criclife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)