Zim face stiff Sri Lankan chal­lenge in must-win clash

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

A TIE can have sev­eral pos­i­tive af­fects on a team, es­pe­cially achieved against a bigger, more fan­cied op­po­si­tion.

Af­ter a thrilling tie against West Indies, Zim­babwe will be high on con­fi­dence, but sev­eral chal­lenges lie ahead of them as they take on Sri Lanka in to­day’s tris­eries match at Queens Sports Club in Bu­l­awayo.

Time and again, they’ve crum­bled af­ter a promis­ing per­for­mance and have let mo­men­tum, and more im­por­tantly con­fi­dence, slip. Take your mind back to June ear­lier this year. Zim­babwe were blanked by In­dia 3-0 in the One-Day In­ter­na­tional se­ries, but bounced back to seal a thrilling two-run win in the first Twenty20 In­ter­na­tional. What hap­pened next? The slipped to a ten-wicket loss in the next game and then ended up con­ced­ing the se­ries 2-1.

The quick turn­around time be­tween the matches should help Zim­babwe as they head into a must-win con­test. They won’t have a lot of time to fo­cus on the lit­tle things that went wrong and can solely fo­cus on things that they did right. How­ever, they can­not af­ford to turn a blind eye to their mid­dle-or­der trou­bles.

In the game against West Indies, Craig Ervine and Sikan­dar Raza laid the per­fect plat­form for the mid­dle or­der to cash in. How­ever, a bat­ting melt­down meant Zim­babwe slipped from 190 for 2 to 257 all out. It is this un­cer­tainty in the bat­ting ranks that head coach Heath Streak wants to ad­dress. The bowlers, on the other hand, have so far man­aged to get the job done but it’s the bats­men who need to step up and stop play­ing sec­ond fid­dle.

Sri Lanka too, are strug­gling with bat­ting woes. In the pal­try chase against the hosts in the first game, Dhanan­jaya de Silva and Niroshan Dick­wella scored runs to ease the team to a win. How­ever, the chinks were ex­posed by the West Indies pac­ers in the sec­ond game.

Sri Lanka haven’t got the lux­ury of ex­pe­ri­ence with them but with promis­ing per­for­mances com­ing from sev­eral in­di­vid­u­als, they walk into the con­test with a slight edge. The con­di­tions won’t be alien now for the visi­tors with them hav­ing played a Test se­ries pre­ced­ing this ODI as­sign­ment. A clin­i­cal per­for­mance here will sig­nif­i­cantly boost their chances of mak­ing it to the fi­nal even if they lose to West Indies in the next game.

Team news Zim­babwe: Af­ter the tie against West Indies, Zim­babwe aren’t likely to make a change to their XI.

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka have got a set­tled bat­ting or­der and aren’t likely to make any changes to the squad that faced West Indies. This also presents the young­sters another op­por­tu­nity to seal a spot in the side be­fore An­gelo Mathews and Di­nesh Chandi­mal come back. Quotes: “We made mis­takes, but the fight shown by the guys was ex­cel­lent. We were sloppy in the field and dropped catches. But we can take pos­i­tives from this game [the tie against West Indies]

l Graeme Cre­mer be­lieves the tie against West Indies can have a catalysing ef­fect on his team’s for­tunes. — Cricbuzz

Craig Ervine

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