Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Harare November 27, 2008

Changes likely for Sri Lanka

Match facts

Nov 28, 2008
Start time 9.30 am (0730 GMT)


Farveez Maharoof struggled in the third ODI, conceding 39 runs off five overs. © AFP
 

Big Picture

Zimbabwe finally showed some mettle in a truncated third ODI, pushing Sri Lanka to the finish as the visitors just about managed to snatch a five-run win. Hamilton Masakadza starred with a blistering 77, and Tatenda Taibu continued to look good, as the home team made amends for their abysmal batting in the first two games. However, the big test for Zimbabwe is to display consistency in the upcoming matches and prove to their critics that the thriller in Harare was not a flash in the pan.

A 28-over game perhaps offered Zimbabwe their best opportunity to cause an upset but they collapsed yet again, losing 5 for 32, and squandering a dominant position of 134 for 1. But they will be encouraged by the manner in which their batsmen, particularly Taibu, handled Ajantha Mendis and Mutthiah Muralitharan. The sweep and the reverse-sweep continued to be used with aplomb as Sri Lanka's spinners struggled to restrain the Zimbabwean top-order.

Sri Lanka will be a touch concerned with the performance of their fast bowlers who faltered after an impressive display in the second ODI. Farveez Maharoof, Thilan Thushara and Nuwan Kulasekara conceded 105 runs between them in 16 overs at a run-rate of over 6.5. With the series in the bag, and the reserve players still to be given a look-in, some changes in the bowling department are inevitable.

Form guide (last five ODIs, most recent last)

Zimbabwe WLLLL
Sri Lanka LWWWW

Watch out for

Elton Chigumbura took 3 for 37 in the third ODI, and despite proving expensive towards the end, displayed an ability to swing the ball both ways to unsettle the Sri Lankan top-order. He dismissed Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene with the away swinger and played a critical role in ensuring Sri Lanka did not get off to a flier in a shortened game.

Thilan Thushara has been the pick of the Sri Lankan fast bowlers so far, capturing four wickets at an average of 19 in three games. Although he went for over six-an-over in the third ODI, he produced two crucial breakthroughs, removing Vusimuzi Sibanda to end a 76-run opening stand, and Masakdza for 77, who had threatened to take the game away from Sri Lanka.

Team news

Zimbabwe may be tempted to go in with an unchanged side following their improved performance. Ed Rainsford, who replaced Chris Mpofu in the third ODI, is likely to retain his place, but the home team will be expecting some more resistance from their middle-order, which, with the exception of Taibu, has struggled to deliver so far.

Zimbabwe (likely): 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Tatenda Taibu, 4 Chamu Chibhabha, 5 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Prosper Utseya (capt), 8 Sean Williams, 9 Raymond Price, 10 Tawanda Mupariwa,11 Edward Rainsford

Sri Lanka are certain to ring in some changes with the series already decided. Dilhara Fernando could be drafted in for Kulasekara, and Angelo Matthews, the allrounder, could well make his debut in place of Maharoof.

Sri Lanka (likely): 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Mahela Udawatte, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Chamara Kapugedera, 6 Jehan Mubarak, 7 Angelo Matthews, 8 Thilan Thushara, 9 Ajantha Mendis, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Dilhara Fernando

Stats & Trivia

  • 16 of Taibu's 31 runs in the third ODI came off the sweep and the reverse-sweep.
  • Masakadza made 58 runs in 37 balls off Sri Lanka's fast bowlers in the third ODI. He was far more watchful against spinners, scoring 19 off 31, and particularly against Muralitharan, making just 5 off 16.
  • Fast bowlers have taken nine of the 11 Sri Lankan wickets to fall. Prosper Utseya, who bowls off-spin, spilled a catch off Kumara Sangakkara while he was on 14. It could well have been a decisive wicket had he held on.

Quotes

"I'm still looking for a win. We will still use our strongest side in the last two matches. There might be one or two youngsters to go with our strongest team. But the main focus is to try to get at least a win."
Walter Chawaguta, the Zimbabwe coach, is determined to cause an upset, which his team came so close to doing in the previous match.

Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo