Brathwaite believes ‘pace’ can play a role in Sri Lanka
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West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite
West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite

(CMC) – Captain Kraigg Brathwaite believes pace can play a significant role in the upcoming two-Test series despite the spin-friendly pitches expected in both contests, carded for Galle, and he believes the four-day encounter at the weekend will be critical to the touring side’s preparation.

Subcontinent pitches have been notoriously low, slow and conducive to spin over the years, and spinners accounted for 67 per cent of the wickets which fell during West Indies’ tour here six years ago.

And although the Caribbean side have armed themselves with three specialist spinners and a spinning all-rounder in their 15-man squad, Brathwaite said seamers Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder could still make an impact.

“Obviously we’ve assumed spin-friendly pitches but we haven’t been there as yet to see the surface but I think there’s always a role for the fast bowlers,” Brathwaite told a media conference here yesterday.

“Shannon Gabriel really led the way in Bangladesh in the first Test (earlier this year) bowling with some good pace.
“Kemar Roach getting an early wicket that first morning was very crucial. Obviously Jason wasn’t there and (Kyle) Mayers is always crucial (with his medium pace).

“So I believe despite possibly spin-friendly pitches, I still think the pacers will do well. I can see them getting wickets, but obviously it’s just about building pressure.”

He continued: “Obviously Shannon will bring some aggression so I look forward to seeing the guys operate in these conditions.
“We’re pretty much accustomed to these hot conditions in the Caribbean so I look forward to the pacers doing a good job.”
West Indies face a very stern test especially having never won a single Test in Sri Lanka in 11 previous matches.

On their last trip here, the Holder-led unit suffered a 72-run defeat in the opening Test before going down by an innings and six runs inside four days in the second game.

West Indies’ batting came under severe pressure, managing 250 just once, while twice dismissed for under 200 in the first Test. And with the recent struggles against South Africa at home, Brathwaite said this would be a key area of concern.
“The bowlers have been leading the way throughout the year,” Brathwaite noted.

“I think the batters had the South Africa series where we didn’t do that well. Some guys came back and got some scores against Pakistan (and) obviously when we went Bangladesh the guys did well; so for me, it’s always a work in progress.
“The batters always have something to work on so it’s just to touch up.”

He added: “I think it’s key for us to start well and have big partnerships in the top five, top six. I think once we do that, I think we set ourselves up to get big totals.

“The batters have been putting in some extra work and I think the start will be crucial from the top five batters.”
West Indies will play both Tests in Galle after featuring in a four-day warm-up match starting here tomorrow, and Brathwaite said the fixture was essential for the touring side in adapting to the conditions.

“I think going into the practice game it’s just to have the mindset that it’s a Test match,” he pointed out.
“Secondly, it’s a good opportunity to get familiar with the surfaces. Obviously it won’t be the exact surface but it will be quite similar.

“So it will be good to get that four-day game and the guys get a run – both the bowlers, from the fast bowlers (to) the spinners, and the batsmen.”

He added: “Also, we had two good practice sessions before and the guys really put in a big effort. It would be good to get out there and get in a game against a Sri Lankan ‘A’ team, and get ourselves even more familiar with conditions.”

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