Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka, Tri-Series, 3rd match, Bulawayo May 31, 2010

Under-pressure Sri Lanka face confident Zimbabwe

Match Facts

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Start time 0900 (0700 GMT)

The Big Picture

This series was supposed to be an opportunity to showcase Zimbabwe cricket to the world. Is it in good health? Is the talent there? Is the desire there? The Twenty20 World Cup provided a few answers. Even though they didn't win a game in the tourney, they sparkled in the warm-ups by defeating Australia and Pakistan. This tri-series has hinted at more progress. They produced a clinical win against India in the first ODI in Bulawayo. They have to now to show they can sustain their recent performances. The game against Sri Lanka provides another opportunity.

Sri Lanka chose to rest some players and test a few others in this competition. In their first ODI, they might have fallen well short of setting an ideal target but considering the conditions they batted in - the track was two-paced and there was help for spin and seam in the first half due to overnight rains- it wasn't a poor effort. The ease with which India chased it down was slightly surprising, though. The pitch had certainly eased up but the bowling lacked bite. "To defend a score of 240-odd we had to bowl in the right areas and take half-chances," Dilshan said later. Neither happened. They would try to get their batting and bowling right against Zimbabwe.

That Zimbabwe rely on their four-prong spin attack is no secret. It's as if they are saying: 'We have four spinners who like strangling the batsmen and two of them - Ray Price and Prosper Utseya - have no problem in operating within Powerplays. We will try to get you with spin, tackle it if you can.' It's going to be interesting to see how Sri Lanka tackle that threat.

Form guide (most recent first)

Sri Lanka LWLWW

Watch out for...

You've got to love Ray Price. He doesn't even bother to hide that almost maniacal hatred of the batsmen. Watch out for his angry stares, his long follow-through that ends up at the nose of the batsmen, his screeching appeals, and most importantly for his strangling spin bowling, without which all the rest of his mannerisms would have ended up irritating you.

Tharanga is an unlikely candidate to replace the more popular and the more attacking Sanath Jayasuriya but his job has been made relatively easier by Jayasuriya's recent failures. Tharanga, though, has to score consistently to make that spot his own.

Team news

Zimbabwe (possible) 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Brendan Taylor(wk) 3 Charles Coventry, 4 Greg Lamb, 5 Craig Ervine, 6 Elton Chigumbura (capt.), 7 Andy Blignaut, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Prosper Utseya, 10 Chris Mpofu, 11 Ray Price.

Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt.), 3 Thilan Samaraweera, 4 Angelo Mathews/Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Chamara Kapugedera, 7 Thissara Perera, 8 Suraj Randiv, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Dilhara Fernando, 11 Ajantha Mendis.

Stats and trivia

  • Ray Price has an economy rate of 3.88 from 75 ODIs. Against Sri Lanka his economy rate gets even better: just 3.36 from seven games

  • Upul Tharanga averages 32.40 from 93 ODIs and has collected 231 runs at 38.50 from seven games against Zimbabwe. He hit a hundred in his first ODI against Zimbabwe but he has also two ducks against them.


    "Our players have played more games now than some of the cricketers we come up against and we cannot go on blaming inexperience any more ... I am hoping to make a difference with my captaincy. We are capable of winning games and we have done it in the past. "
    Elton Chigumbura sees no reason why Zimbabwe can't win consistently

    Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo