About the Match
Sri Lanka aced what could have been a tricky chase in the third ODI and look very confident going into the fourth ODI. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, must find a way to take some wickets otherwise they will always end up a few runs short irrespective of what their batsmen put up.
Sri Lanka chased down 300 with absolute ease and registered a thumping 8 wicket win to lead the series 2-1, however, the win should not gloss over some obvious weaknesses in their game. Zimbabwe has now scored over 300 against the Sri Lankan bowling attack twice in the space of three games and is pushing the home team beyond what most people expected.
Lasith Malinga is a declining force and Sri Lanka will have to think about their death bowling resources without his presence. Even in this match with Malinga, they went for 47 off the last 4 overs. A stronger batting side than Sri Lanka could really make them pay.
On the batting front, though, there are some huge gains on which Sri Lanka should look to build. In Gunathilaka and Dickwella, Sri Lanka finally seems to have settled on a long term opening pair. They are followed by Kusal Mendis, easily the best young batsman in the team right now and the batting resurgence of Upul Tharanga has lent solid heft to the entire batting unit.
Lakshan Sandakan was brilliant in the 2nd
ODI but was back to his inconsistent self in the 3rd
. Batting and fielding are the two aspects that Sri Lanka needs to work on otherwise the higher ranked teams will run circles around them.
There was not much more that the Zimbabwe batsmen could have done in this match. Led by Hamilton Masakadza who scored a magnificent hundred, the Zimbabwe batting unit responded fantastically to the debacle of the second match.
A total of 310 was definitely above par and history showed that it would have been enough on most days. This was not one of those days, however, as Zimbabwe’s toothless bowling came to the fore.
There really was not much challenge thrown at the batsmen and the few mistakes the batsmen did make were not costly since Zimbabwe shelled 4 catches in the field and missed a difficult stumping as well.
Fielding is something that is not a problem for Zimbabwe but they would be very disappointed at their effort in the third match. Dropping Dickwella on 64 was a costly mistake as he went on to score a hundred and did not allow the run rate to drop at any point in time.
We mentioned how Zimbabwe would need to bat out of their skins to put pressure on the Sri Lankan batting but even that was not enough in this match.
For Zimbabwe to have any chance of equalizing the series, Zimbabwe would need to do everything once again and then hope for a much-improved bowling effort.
Pitch and Conditions
The pitch at Hambantota was easily the best for batting seen in this series. If anything, it was too easy for the batsmen to run amock. We expect the pitch to slow down slightly and maybe offer a little bit more turn for this match even though a different strip from the square will be used.
The weather forecast is for a cloudy day without the risk of too much rain.
Zimbabwe had a golden chance in the third ODI to win but they blew it. We don’t think their batting is consistent enough to give them such huge totals to defend every time and are therefore backing Sri Lanka to close out the series in this match.
Back Sri Lanka to win.
Winner: Sri Lanka, 1.17 @ Bet on Sri Lanka now