Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Harare November 23, 2008

Sorry Zimbabwe look for batting revival

Match facts

Nov 24, 2008
Start time 9.30 am (0730 GMT)

Zimbabwe's batsmen have failed to measure up to the Sri Lankan bowling, being bowled out in 31 overs in both the matches. © AFP

Big Picture

The series so far has witnessed two appalling batting displays from the home team, sarcastic cheers from the crowd at the scoring of a run - a rare commodity in each of Zimbabwe's innings - and continued doubt over the country's durability as a cricket-playing nation.

Zimbabwe have averaged just 9.6 runs for each wicket this series, with only two of their batsmen, Stuart Matsikenyeri and Tatenda Taibu, showing any ability to resist the Sri Lankan bowling attack. A top-order failure against the fast bowlers, followed by a collapse to Ajantha Mendis' spin, has been the usual trend. With only five Zimbabweans reaching double figures in the two matches, their batting is in a serious need of a reversal of fortunes to come anywhere close to challenging the visitors.

Sri Lanka's fast bowlers, after a relatively disappointing first ODI, were impressive in the second, capturing six wickets between them. However, the batsmen are short of practice, having chased paltry scores, and will be keen to bat first after winning the toss to spend more time at the crease.

Form guide (last five ODIs, most recent first)

Zimbabwe LLLWL
Sri Lanka WWWLL

Watch out for

Ajantha Mendis has triggered a Zimbabwean middle-order collapse in each of the two matches, and has troubled their batsmen particularly with the one that goes straight on. He has captured seven wickets in the two matches, at a staggering average of 5.85.

Tatenda Taibu, the highest run-getter for Zimbabwe in the two games, has played the spinners - particularly Mendis - well, relying extensively on the sweep and the reverse-sweep to unsettle them. His 41-run partnership with Stuart Matsikenyeri in the first ODI, where both employed the sweep shot against Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis with relentless frequency, remains one of the few highlights for Zimbabwe in the series so far.

Team news

Zimbabwe may include Regis Chakabva, their reserve wicketkeeper, to bolster their batting. Chakabva made 41 in his only ODI in Kenya, and may ease the burden off Taibu, who kept in the first two games.

Zimbabwe (likely): 1 Sean Williams, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Chamu Chibhabha, 4 Tatenda Taibu, 5 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Regis Chakabva (wk), 8 Prosper Utseya (capt), 9 Raymond Price, 10 Tawanda Mupariwa, 11 Christopher Mpofu.

Sri Lanka, a win away from sealing the series, are likely to go in with an unchanged side. Their reserve players, Angelo Matthews, Thilina Kandamby, Dilhara Fernando and Dammika Prasad, may have to wait a little while more before getting a look in.

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

Stats & Trivia

  • Stuart Matsinkenyeri and Tatenda Taibu have scored 32 of the 41 runs conceded by Ajantha Mendis in the series.

  • Zimbabwe have failed to score 200 in their last four matches at the Harare Sports Club.


    "We end up facing the spinners under a lot of pressure because of the wickets going to the seamers. We do not have enough cover in our middle order to face the quality of their two spinners."
    Walter Chawaguta, the Zimbabwe coach, tries to explain his team's lamentable batting performance in the two matches.

    "It is still far from over and I still fancy our chances of winning at least one of the remaining matches. We are capable of coming back from this setback and still believe in myself and my team."
    Chawaguta, again, and this time showing faith in his teams. His optimism is surely misplaced.

    Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo