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Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2011, Group A, Pallekele

Sri Lanka aim to build momentum

The Preview by Andrew McGlashan

March 9, 2011

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A

Match Facts

March 10, Pallekele
Start time 2.30pm (0900 GMT)

Tatenda Taibu plays the pull, Canada v Zimbabwe, World Cup, Group A, Nagpur, February 28, 2011
Zimbabwe need more from their top order to stand a chance against Sri Lanka © Getty Images
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The Big Picture

Like all four major Test nations in Group A, Sri Lanka are on course to progress to the quarter-finals without any serious problems, and the chances of Zimbabwe providing an upset to create a modicum of the excitement witnessed in the other group is slim to none. However, for Sri Lanka it's an ideal time to produce a commanding all-round performance and build momentum ahead of the quarter-finals.

There is a feeling that Sri Lanka haven't quite clicked yet. They have eased past Canada and Kenya - the latter thanks to Lasith Malinga's hat-trick - but came unstuck against Pakistan with an 11-run defeat. The clash against Australia was shaping up to be a cracker when the rain came and interrupted a well-paced innings by Kumar Sangakkara and denied the spinners their chance to shine.

Zimbabwe shouldn't provide many problems having suffered a 10-wicket hammering at the hands of New Zealand in their last game. Their batting has lacked consistency and will face a tough examination from whichever combination of spinners Sri Lanka opt to field, while there's Malinga's toe-crushes to overcome as well. Ray Price and Prosper Utseya are good spinners themselves but desperately need the batsmen to back them up.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WLWWW

Watch out for...

Ajantha Mendis may have been worked out by some of the top international teams, but against lower-ranked opponents his unique variety of wrist and finger spin still proves a handful. He surprisingly went wicketless against Kenya, did not play against Pakistan and took just one wicket against Canada. He'll hope for a chance to make his mark on the World Cup and build confidence ahead of the knockout stages, but faces competition for his place from left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

Elton Chigumbura needs to lead from the front. The captain has struggled so far with three low scores and it means Zimbabwe's middle order is lacking someone to either rebuild after early problems or increase the scoring rate later on. Chigumbura has the talent to be a major run-scorer which is why his lean World Cup is such a frustration, and perhaps the stresses of captaincy are weighing on his shoulders. Conditions haven't proved conducive to his medium-pace, either, which makes it even more important that he delivers with the bat.

Team news

If Sri Lanka want three spinners in their XI again it means the new ball is either in the hands of one of them or Angelo Mathews. With Malinga also more of a threat with the older ball it can leave Sri Lanka a little light early on so it may be an opportunity to assess the balance of their team. Mahela Jayawardene hinted that Dilhara Fernando could earn his first outing although Nuwan Kulasekara provides more batting.

Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk) 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Chamara Silva, 7 Angelo Mathews, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan

There aren't really many options for Zimbabwe to strengthen their team so it's a case of asking for better from what they already have. The pitch in Pallekele offered some assistance to the seamers during Tuesday's match between New Zealand and Pakistan, and Chigumbura said they may play one or two seamers although Chris Mpofu is carrying a side strain so is doubtful.

Zimbabwe (probable) 1 Brendan Taylor, 2 Charles Coventry, 3 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 4 Craig Ervine, 5 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 6 Regis Chakabva, 7 Greg Lamb, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Ray Price, 11 Tinashe Panyangara

Pitch and conditions

Pallekelle will be staging its second ODI following the match between Pakistan and New Zealand. Ross Taylor didn't have many problems with the conditions - and comfortably cleared the ropes - but batting proved trickier under lights when the ball zipped around.

Stats and trivia

  • Thirteen of the 16 wickets Zimbabwe have taken at the World Cup have gone to their spinners

  • Compared to their record against some other major nations, Zimbabwe have had their moments against Sri Lanka with seven victories in 46 ODIs, with the most recent an eight-wicket win at Harare last June.


"If we keep our wickets in hand, I'm sure we can handle them a bit better. But if we lose wickets first up then it is going to be hard for us to come back in the game."
Elton Chigumbura says it is Zimbabwe's top order that needs most improvement

"It's such a big and long tournament it's important that we be consistent and try and get better and better going forward because you get big games and tough games coming in a few weeks."
Mahela Jaywardene is keen to build some momentum ahead of the knockouts

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 30 
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Posted by Sathish on (March 10, 2011, 8:03 GMT)

Heath Streak, Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Paul Strang - ZIM had a great team once. It is a pity that are losing matches regularly. Even Irish and Dutch teams are playing better cricket. Hope one of their top order batsmen gets a big score and gives them the confidence.

Posted by Dharmendra on (March 10, 2011, 8:03 GMT)

Zimbabwe has real chance of upset if they bat first.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 7:46 GMT)

SL should win this with ease. Expecting firework from Dilshan.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

((((((((((((((((((((((((GO ZIMBABWE))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Posted by Andrew on (March 10, 2011, 7:10 GMT)

@athentik - its not the Associates its actually the "design" of the draw whereby the Big Boys aren't allowed to be knocked out BEFORE the Finals, (read India). So we have this long & meaningless premble & results like Ireland v England mean very little. You COULD have 16 teams playing 33 matches as opposed to the current almost 50 games. The preliminary round would be over in under 2 weeks - then straight down to a final 8 playing in knock out finals. EASY!

Anyways - should be a good game!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

practice matche for sri lanka

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 6:29 GMT)

IF give another the chance to thisara perera that would be great or Dilhara, but if come thisara or dilhara , kulasekara has to sit on bench, no other change. Chamara silva also good n his position

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 6:17 GMT)

Dilshan will be looking for some good performance here. We didn't see much of him yet..though he gets to 40s he seems to be struggling to time the ball. A player like dilshan depends almost entirely on timing the ball coz his foot movements and techniques arn't that good..so eagerly awaiting his come back..can't wait to see a dilscoop which he didn't play for a long time...

Posted by Amal on (March 10, 2011, 6:04 GMT)

I believe SL are not taking any opponent lightly. I remember Mahela questioned why Pakistan are not among the favorites just before they face Pakistan, and it was proved. Zims are not easier at all and SL must do the best to overcome any potential upset. @Pps Chawla, do you remember how Dhoni & Company thought about Dutch and what happened then (even the match against English side). Now, one bad day would be sufficient to make things upside down for any favorite.

Posted by Viraj on (March 10, 2011, 5:56 GMT)

Murali & Mendis will make scoring difficult for Zim....They should bat under lights for some batting practice...

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Deputy Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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