“This victory will infuse plethora of confidence in this low-ranked Zimbabwean side. More importantly, it was a collective effort. They have a couple of games more to go and should aim to make it to the final”.
After a disheartening campaign against Bangladesh in the series opener, where they suffered a traffic defeat, Zimbabwe stuck to their guns and came out hard in the second game against Sri Lanka. They romped home with their first win of the series after beating Sri Lanka by a whisker. This was also Zimbabwe’s first win against a Full Member on a neutral venue in last 15 years, a remarkable achievement to say the least. This was also their third consecutive win over Sri Lankan in ODIs.
Zimbabwe’s batting clicked this time and were equally backed by the bowlers to snatch a 12-run victory. Zimbabwe’s career graph has been on a rise, they have been a force to be reckoned across formats and have shown immense signs of evolution against the white ball as well.
— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) January 17, 2018
Recently, they registered an emphatic series win against Sri Lanka in their own den, which was commendable. And before that, they drew the two-match series against Scotland. The signs are clear, this Zimbabwean side is here for a fight and continue to grow in stature with every outing.
The ongoing Tri-Nation series will be a golden opportunity for Zimbabwe to announce themselves on a big platform. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that on paper, Zimbabwe are the underdogs going into the series against the likes of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe have some amazing talents, to begin with, and this was a perfect example of what they can achieve on their day.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, need to pull up. Defeat as such is always painful, but they do have a long way to go in the tournament. Their coach Chandika Haturusingha have a task in hand in infusing confidence and self-belief in this potent Sri Lankan side. As of now, they have a battle against a high on confidence Bangladesh and should focus on that.
A spirited Zimbabwe unit
In this encounter, Hamilton Masakadza, Sikandar Raza, Kyle Jarvis and Tendai Chatara stood out. Their batting fired to set a competitive total of 290 riding on an unbeaten 81 by Raza. The middle-order assassin continues to grow in stature and once again delivered when his side needed him to. He walked in to bat at a good position but had the pressure of continuing the momentum and tempo were always there, which he did with some belligerence.
Raza smashed eight boundaries and a solitary six for his 81 off 67 deliveries. Before that, the platform was well set by Masakadza at the top with a tenacious 73 off 83 deliveries. The veteran along with Solomon Mire ensured Zimbabwe got off to a solid start with a healthy stand of 75 at the top. Defending 290 against the powerful Sri Lankan batting was always going to be a challenge. They have some power-hitters that can take the game away within a matter of few overs. Zimbabwe bowlers didn’t have a lot of breathing space and had to come out hard, chip early wickets and put pressure on the opposition.
Kyle Jarvis proved his worth with two big wickets of Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal while other bowlers did well to have crucial wickets to their name. Zimbabwe needed to pick wickets at regular intervals, which they did. Chatara had Kusal Mendis caught for a duck and chipped three more to end with figures of 4 for 33.
Kusal Perera was always going to be the key for Sri Lanka in such a high-scoring game, and the southpaw did live up to the expectations. He was building his innings sensibly and threatened to take the game away from Zimbabwe, but Raza got rid of him for 80. Once again, Raza proved his worth in this Zimbabwean line-up as an allrounder.
Most of the Sri Lanka batsmen got starts but failed to convert. Mathews and Chandimal, Sri Lanka’s two best batsmen, got starts and needed to anchor the chase, but failed to do so. When all the chips were down, Thisara Perera played a cameo and almost carried his side over the line, but it wasn’t to be.
Just when things were looking calm and composed for Sri Lanka, Thisara mistimed a low full toss to deep mid-wicket off Chatara and splashed waters on Sri Lanka’s hopes. Sri Lanka were so close, yet so far, but credit should be given to Zimbabwe for chipping wickets at regular intervals and keeping the pressure on.
This victory will infuse plethora of confidence in this low-ranked Zimbabwean side. More importantly, it was a collective effort. They have a couple of games more to go and should aim to make it to the final. In Test cricket, Zimbabwe have shown signs of improvement and they have managed to replicate similar confidence in ODIs as well. Well, not many will be surprised if this potent side goes on to win the Tri-Nation series and script history in their ODI career.