Sri Lanka (above) have an edge against low-lying and inconsistent West Indies    AFP
Sri Lanka (above) have an edge against low-lying and inconsistent West Indies AFP

The Tri-Nation series featuring hosts Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and West Indies started with the obvious result. In the first game of the seven-match series, Sri Lanka defeated Zimbabwe by 8 wickets to get to a rollicking start. The second game is expected to be a tight affair between Sri Lanka and West Indies and will help in determining which way the series pans out. The Upul Tharanga-led Sri Lanka have an edge against low-lying and inconsistent West Indies, led by Jason Holder. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Sri Lanka vs West Indies, Tri-Nation series 2016, 2nd ODI at Harare

While Sri Lanka have been in Zimbabwe for sometime, albeit an easy outing in the two-Test series, West Indies are coming on the brink of a whitewash in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against Pakistan in United Arab Emirates (UAE). Prior to the three-ODI series against Pakistan, West Indies were upbeat in another Tri-Nation series, including South Africa and Australia, reaching the finals but will have to lift themselves after hitting rock bottom since then.

Another stiff ask for the Caribbean side will be to get used to the conditions on offer. The conditions in the African nation will be a little dry, assisting some lateral movement but mostly conducive for batting. Spin will also play a key role, which sets up a riveting contest as both the teams have a good line-up when it comes to turning the ball.

The two teams are relatively inexperienced but the ones who remain calm and play to their potential will emerge victorious. From Sri Lanka s point of view, the onus will be on senior pros Nuwan Kulasekra and Upul Tharanga to guide their side to another win. The Asian side already have a bonus point in their kitty after their one-sided encounter against a low-lying Zimbabwean side. They will like to carry on and book a berth in the final with another polished effort.

Sri Lanka have been gaining valuable youngsters, off late, like Kusal Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sadakhan, Dhananjaya de Silva and Sachith Pathirana in their ranks. Valuable contribution from these players mentioned above will keep them in good stead for upcoming matches. For West Indies, they have always been marred with unnecessary controversies or spats between their players and board. Their prolific batsman, Darren Bravo, has fallen prey to West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and is missing out on this series. This is a huge blip for his side who will have to find someone to bat around like the left-hander does.

Nonetheless, it is another great chance for West Indies to showcase some talent in international circuit against two not-so-strong-sides in the ongoing series. The burden will again fall on 24-year-old Holder to lead his troops. The likes of Kraigg Brathwaite, Johnson Charles, Shane Dorwich, Carlos Brathwaite will have to stand up and perform collectively. They will have a job in hand especially in this evens contest.

Sri Lanka will like to unleash their spin attack on West Indies, which may be an attacking ploy as Holder s side is tentative against spin. They will still like to bank upon their power hitting and go after the slow bowlers which can pay rich dividends for Sri Lanka. On the other hand, West Indies also have three spinners in form of Sunil Narine, Suliemen Benn and newcomer Ashley Nurse. While they can spring a surprise, their pace battery looks more enticing in form of Miguel Cummins, Shannon Gabriel and all-rounders like Holder and Brathwaite. It is their batting which looks spineless without Bravo and Marlon Samuels as Kraigg and Dorwich will be expected to carry on from their Test form.

While West Indies have power-hitters in their ranks, Sri Lanka have some promising players who can stick in the middle for long and also shift gears when needed. The bowling department is overall slightly in favour of Sri Lanka but spin will play a key role in determining the winner. Both the sides have tweakers who can pose a threat essentially in the tricky middle overs play. The tides are slightly in favour of Sri Lanka seeing the inconsistency of West Indies but who knows this Tri-Nation series we get to see a much improved performance from the winners of first two editions of 50-over World Cup.

The head-to-head encounter between two sides stands in West Indies favour with 27 wins while Sri Lanka are also not lagging behind with 24 triumphs from 54 matches. By the end of this tri-series, this may change a lot. We may have a game in hand and witness the first close game of the series.

Squads:

Sri Lanka: Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga (c), Shehan Jayasuriya, Asela Gunaratne, Sachith Pathirana, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Dasun Shanaka, Lahiru Kumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Jeffrey Vandersay.

West Indies: Jason Holder (c), Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jason Mohammed, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Miguel Cummins, Evin Lewis, Devendra Bishoo, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell, Shane Dowrich (wk).

Time: 09:30 local | 07:30 GMT | 13:00 IST

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)