Sri Lanka jet in for two-Test se­ries

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Mehluli Sibanda in Harare

THE Sri Lankan na­tional cricket team ar­rived in Harare yes­ter­day for a two-Test se­ries against Zim­babwe and a tri­an­gu­lar one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries also in­volv­ing the West Indies.

Sri Lanka touched down at the Harare In­ter­na­tional Air­port yes­ter­day af­ter­noon and were re­ceived by Zim­babwe Cricket of­fi­cials, among them head of hu­man re­sources and cor­po­rate af­fairs Nesta Vaki, na­tional teams and cricket af­fairs man­ager Chris­tian Chiketa and pub­lic re­la­tions and me­dia man­ager Dar­ling­ton Ma­jonga.

Left-arm spin­ner Ran­gana Herath will lead the Sri Lankans in the two Tests; the first of which gets un­der­way at Harare Sports Club on Satur­day. The 38-year-old Herath is stand­ing in for in­jured all­rounder An­gelo Mathews, who was ruled out of the Zim­babwe tour by a torn calf. Reg­u­lar vice-cap­tain Di­nesh Chandi­mal also missed the trip be­cause of a thumb in­jury.

Herath re­cently put up a su­perb show with the red ball as Sri Lanka white­washed Aus­tralia 3-0 in a Test se­ries in July/Au­gust in the sub­con­ti­nent.

He took 28 wick­ets in the three Tests against the Aussies. Seven­teen years after mak­ing his Test de­but, Herath is set to be­come the old­est player to lead a team for the first time in the long ver­sion of the game at in­ter­na­tional level.

Mean­while, the Zim­babwe squad has been trimmed from 20 to 16 for the two Tests.

Wick­et­keeper Rich­mond Mu­tum­bami, top or­der bats­men Prince Mas­vaure, Chamunorwa Chib­habha, off spin­ner John Nyumbu and left-arm pace bowler Brian Vi­tori have been dropped from the 20-man squad an­nounced last week. The four were ex­cluded fol­low­ing con­sul­ta­tions be­tween the con­venor of se­lec­tors Tatenda Taibu, head coach Heath Streak, bowl­ing coach Makhaya Ntini, bat­ting con­sul­tant Lance Klusener and skip­per Graeme Cre­mer.

Pace bowler Michael Chi­nouya, who had been left out of the ini­tial squad as he was un­der­go­ing al­lergy treat­ment, has been in­cluded to bol­ster the pace bowl­ing at­tack.

Streak said they would se­lect the ODI train­ing squad soon and if play­ers dropped from the Test side are not in that team, they will be sent home.

On his team’s chances of getting a pos­i­tive result against Sri Lanka, Streak feels their prospects are bright and pre­dicted a 1-0 win for Zim­babwe or a share of the spoils at 1-1 in the two Tests.

Z i mb a b w e’s big­gest strength, Streak be­lieves, are the home con­dit ions which work in their favour.

“With the kind of squad they are bring­ing, there is no rea­son why we can’t win a Test. We will win 1-0 or the se­ries will end 1-1 con­sid­er­ing that they just beat the Aussies; that would be good. We have the home con­di­tions in our favour,” said Streak.

Heath Streak

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