NORTH SOUND, Antigua (CMC) — West Indies Head Coach Phil Simmons has dismissed all notions his side will be satisfied with a draw in the second Test starting here today, contending they planned to approach the contest with a positive mindset in an attempt to win their second-consecutive series of the new year.
The home side controlled the first two-and-a-half days of the opening Test last week before Sri Lanka rebounded with an excellent batting performance in their second innings, to negate all chances of a West Indies victory.
And though watching his side easily bat out last Thursday’s final day to earn a draw despite the pressure of a 375-run target, Simmons said West Indies would not be lowering their aspirations for the second Test.
“I’m never satisfied with a draw. I think the draw was important for us [in the last Test] because they played well in their second innings…but no I won’t be [satisfied],” Simmons told a media conference yesterday.
“When you play not to lose, invariably you’re going to make mistakes because you’re going to be tentative in your approach at some point in time.
“But when you go out there playing to win, if the opportunity, like in the last match, didn’t come to win it, at least we were in a position to draw the game.
“For me personally and for this team, we’re not going out there playing not to lose. We’re playing to win and then we put ourselves in a position where we can win or save the game.”
He added: “When I bring the word lose into it, it starts on a negative right away, so if I come into the game playing to win, then I can adjust and save the game.
“I think when I come into the game not to lose, then I’m already putting a negative slant on the start of the game so I prefer to look at it as we’re playing to win.”
For a victory, West Indies are cognisant their attack will have to fire on all cylinders.
Both Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph struggled in the last Test, with Gabriel going wicket-less in 27 overs and Joseph picking up a single wicket in 32 overs.
Gabriel, especially, appeared out of sorts but Simmons pushed back on suggestions the barrel-chested Trinidadian was a concern heading into the second Test.
“Three bowlers clicked and we got wickets. The other two had a bad game so we look forward to them clicking in this, and with all five bowlers on song, that would be what we want, so that’s what we’re looking for,” Simmons pointed out.
“In Bangladesh he [Gabriel] bowled exceptionally well, and he was the main one on the occasion in the first Test who turned around things with his spell in the evening.
“He had a bad game and bowlers have that. Two of the main bowlers didn’t have a good game so that’s one game.
“I think he’s been on song in New Zealand, he was on song in Bangladesh, so one game doesn’t change him being the strike bowler.”
Having started the year well with a clean sweep of the Bangladesh Tests and also having played impressively in last week’s drawn Test, Simmons said another strong performance would be important to the group’s development.
“It will be hugely important because it will show that we are getting some sort of consistency in our all-round cricket, and it would be huge for the fact that we’ve started the year Test cricket wise on a positive note, winning two [Tests] and making sure that we win two series, it would be such a high for us.”
West Indies announced an unchanged squad for the second Test late yesterday.
WEST INDIES – Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Darren Bravo, John Campbell, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican.
SRI LANKA – Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Dasun Shanaka, Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Roshen Silva, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Vishwa Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Asitha Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Embuldeniya.