It has been six months since Zimbabwe came back from being 2-1 down to win 3-2 in an ODI series in Sri Lanka, before pushing the hosts all the way in the solitary Test. All the main performers from that ODI series will be available for both sides as they face off in the tri-series in what will be the 100th ODI to be played in Mirpur.
Zimbabwe have already lost one game, trounced by the hosts Bangladesh by eight wickets, on Monday. Their batsmen didn’t turn up as they got bowled out for 170. Only Sikandar Raza and Peter Moor seemed to offer stability before their partnership ended in a run-out.
Zimbabwe will need a lot more from Hamilton Masakadza, Brendon Taylor, Graeme Cremer and Kyle Jarvis, to start with. On tacky Mirpur pitches, it would be important for batting sides to keep wickets intact and then go for broke in the last 10 overs.
Sri Lanka have the required firepower down the order, with the likes of Thisara Perera, Niroshan Dickwella and Asela Gunaratne in charge of batting in the slog overs. But Sri Lanka also have much more than big-hitters; there’s the experience of Upul Tharanga at the top, followed by comeback man Dinesh Chandimal and the new (so to speak) limited-overs captain Angelo Mathews. These old hands will be required to provide stability.
Sri Lanka are also going to be playing their first match under coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who got plenty of good results as Bangladesh’s head coach from 2014 to 2017. If that success rubs off on his new team, Sri Lanka are in for an interesting tri-series ahead.
Sri Lanka: LLWLL
In the spotlight
With scores of 49 and 95 in his last three ODIs, Upul Tharanga will definitely have a say in how Sri Lanka start the game. He has also scored a hundred and three fifties at this ground, having played a lot of domestic cricket in Bangladesh.
Solomon Mire will have great memories playing against Sri Lanka, after his century helped Zimbabwe with a big chase in last year’s ODI series. But he hasn’t been in sparkling form of late, having got three ducks in his last six competitive matches.
Sadeera Samarawickrama and Sachith Pathirana, who played in Sri Lanka’s third ODI against India, are not part of the 16-man squad in Bangladesh. Chandimal is likely to be slotted in at No. 3 while they also have Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera as batting options. Newcomer Shehan Madushanka could make a debut given his pace, which could be handy in Dhaka’s conditions.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Danushka Gunathilaka, 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Dinesh Chandimal, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 6 Asela Gunaratne, 7 Thisara Perera (capt), 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Shehan Madushanka, 10 Suranga Lakmal, 11 Nuwan Pradeep
Zimbabwe may look to blood Brandon Mavuta, the legspinning allrounder, as he has some first-class runs behind him. Chris Mpofu could replace Blessing Muzarabani who misfired on ODI debut. They also have Ryan Murray and Tendai Chisoro on the bench.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Solomon Mire, 3 Craig Ervine, 4 Brendan Taylor, 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Sikandar Raza, 7 Peter Moor (wk), 8 Graeme Cremer (capt), 9 Kyle Jarvis, 10 Chris Mpofu/Blessing Muzarabani, 11 Tendai Chatara
Pitch and conditions
The pitch in the first game was evidently a bit sticky, which made strokeplay in the early part of the game quite hard. Both sides would look to bat conservatively and launch themselves in the last 10 overs. The weather, meanwhile, remains cold.
Stats and trivia
“We will still be confident that we can push Sri Lanka, because of how we played against them last time. We have seen the wicket; we know the Sri Lankan bowlers. There’s a bit of dew in the evening, which might play a part. We will be better prepared for the next game.”
Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer sounds out a warning to Sri Lanka
“Zimbabwe played well in Sri Lanka. They are a good team. All their players have come back to play for their country, so they are now even stronger. It is going to be a challenge, but we look forward to it.”
Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka’s returning limited-overs captain, is wary of their opposition
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.