India's inept showing in the tri-series is the main reason why the final league match tomorrow, between the hosts and Sri Lanka, is a dead rubber. What was billed to be an evenly-matched tournament, with India and Sri Lanka sending under-strength teams, has turned into a contest between just two teams. Zimbabwe's twin victories against India upset all predictions and hence put enormous pressure on India in their final match on Saturday to not only beat Sri Lanka but by a comfortable margin to keep their chances alive. But the Sri Lankans, led by Dinesh Chandimal, oozed class and were the deserved winners. The finalists were already decided and the penultimate game is now a dress rehearsal for the final.
In the five games so far, the team chasing has won all games so tomorrow's contest offers a chance for the team batting first to get sufficient practice in case they are put in again in the final. Zimbabwe struggled against the Sri Lankan spinners in their previous game, which was a very one-sided encounter. If they can work on that area, then the two remaining games should promise to be more competitive. If they could upset India, there's no reason why Zimbabwe can't do the same against Sri Lanka.
Form guide (most recent first)
Zimbabwe: WLWLL Sri Lanka: WWLWL
Watch out for...
Since his record-breaking unbeaten 194 against Bangladesh last year, Charles Coventry has scored just one fifty. Although it's too much to expect a repeat performance, the best he can do is show more consistency in the middle order, and prove that his blinder of a knock was no fluke. His cameo 32 was crucial in Zimbabwe's shock win against India in the first match, but in the next two games, he scored just 11 and 20.
Sri Lanka's biggest gain against India on Saturday was Dinesh Chandimal.The wicketkeeper-batsman was initially selected for the World Twenty20 as an attacking T20 batsman, but though he didn't make much of an impact in the Caribbean, he made the chase of 269 look ridiculously simple, smashing 111. He impressed with his shot selection, footwork and aggressive bent of mind. He looked at ease against pace and spin, and the towering sixes underlined his worth as a promising batsman.
Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said after Saturday's game that they will look to experiment before the final and try out some of the players in the bench. Batsman Lahiru Thirimanne hasn't played a game yet so there's an opportunity for him. One of the seamers can also be rested, in order to give Dilhara Fernando a game.