About the Match
Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe are about to play a one-off test, as has become the norm these days, in circumstances that the hosts would probably have never even thought could come to pass. Defeat in the ODI series has left Sri Lanka searching for answers and very little time to come up with solutions. Can Zimbabwe take this opportunity to turn their historic tour into something truly remarkable?
These are not happy times for Sri Lankan cricket as they struggle to come to terms with the ODI loss they have just been handed by the 11th
ranked team in the world. Their top-order batsmen made merry but the lower order was not explosive enough and the bowlers never really came to the party.
Angelo Mathews has resigned in the wake of the ODI series result and Dinesh Chandimal, who was not in the ODI squad, will now be leading the team for this test match.
Dickwella and Gunathilaka were the two most successful batsmen for Sri Lanka but the test matches will see Upul Tharanga and Dimuth Karunaratne step out as the opening pair. Tharanga is also in excellent form and can be counted upon to make this opportunity count in the one-off test match.
Overall, the Sri Lanka batting looks quite strong with Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Asela Gunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella likely to be a part of the playing eleven. The bowling will also be strengthened by the return of Rangana Herath and Suranga Lakmal to the side.
This Sri Lankan team is actually a better unit than the ODI side in terms of wicket taking ability and should be able to provide more of a challenge to the in-form Zimbabwe batsmen.
The fielding, another area where Sri Lanka seems to have regressed with alarming pace, will also be very important and we doubt whether the home team will be able to match the visitors here as well.
The form and approach shown by the Zimbabwe batsmen in the ODI series was refreshing and there is no doubt that they will approach the test match in a similar manner. However, success over the course of 50 overs and that over the course of 5 days is very different.
For one thing, Zimbabwe does not have too much test cricket behind it in recent times and the side’s players clearly prefer the shorter format of the games. While Zimbabwe’s batsmen played some excellent innings in the ODI’s, their ability to play out time and go on to score big hundreds is untested.
The biggest challenge for Zimbabwe will be to bowl Sri Lanka out twice in a Test match if they are to win the game. For all the success that Zimbabwe had in the ODI’s, they were unable to bowl Sri Lanka out even once and took 24 wickets compared to the 35 that the Sri Lankan bowlers took.
The core of the Zimbabwe test team is the same as their ODI team and that is a huge plus for them. Those players know that Sri Lanka can be beaten at home and a few good performances could really increase the pressure on the home team.
We think Zimbabwe’s best chance is to bat first in this test match and then utilize a crumbling pitch in the fourth innings. If they end up losing the toss and having to bat last then they could well find the test challenge a little too much for them surmount just yet.
Pitch and Conditions
The Premadasa Stadium in Colombo is an iconic stadium and one where Sri Lanka has tasted a lot of success. The pitch appears to have a little in it for the seamers for the first day but will quickly deteriorate to be helpful for the spinners.
We expect the match to really accelerate as it gets into the third day.
Some amount of rain is in the air and can be expected to interfere in the match with regularity.
Sri Lanka to win this test match.