Zimbabwe, who gave a good account of themselves in the first ODI, might consider beefing up their spin attack
Zimbabwe will reflect on what could have been. They didn’t close their innings as well as they could have in the first ODI, but on Sri Lankan tracks, 296 for 9 is usually a winning total. And beyond a couple of missed chances, they were generally not terribly indisciplined in the second innings, either. Zimbabwe were simply outplayed by Sri Lanka’s young batting talents – Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka – and Dinesh Chandimal.
There is perhaps a case for Zimbabwe beefing up their spin attack, however, because while it was the seamers that claimed the majority of wickets on Sunday, it was the spinners who were better at controlling the run rate in the first 40 overs, when only seven wickets fell across both innings.
Without Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga – Sri Lanka’s main wicket-taking threats – the hosts themselves lacked menace. If another flat surface is on offer on Tuesday, another high-scoring match (by Sri Lankan standards at least) could eventuate.
(completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WWLWW
In the spotlight
Over the past four years, Sean Williams has been superbly consistent with the bat, averaging 49.91 since the start of 2018, with a strike rate of 86. Although he’s played ODIs since 2005, four of his five hundreds have come in this period, including the century that formed the backbone of Zimbabwe’s innings on Sunday. His sweeping against the spinners, and his targeting of the legside against the quicks, was a particular highlight of that knock.
Pathum Nissanka came into the international scene for his performances in the longest format, but lately, he’s been finding his feet in limited-overs cricket too. In the T20 World Cup last year, he had scores of 61, 72 and 51. On Sunday, he struck the first ODI half-century of his career. Sri Lanka seem to want to develop him into an all-format opener, and so far, he’s responding.
Pitch and conditions
The weather is not forecast to interrupt. Quicks generally do well in Pallekele, especially under lights, even if that wasn’t necessarily the case in the first match.
If Dushmantha Chameera remains unready to return to the field (he has just recently recovered from Covid), Sri Lanka may go with either the round-arm slinger Nuwan Thushara, or Shiran Fernando. Either way, whoever plays will take the injured Chamika Gunasekara’s place.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Mendis (wk), 3 Kamindu Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Charith Asalanka 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt.), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Jeffrey Vandersay, 9 Dushmantha Chameera/Nuwan Thushara, 10 Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Nuwan Pradeep
Zimbabwe might think about bringing in legspinning allrounder Tinotenda Mutombodzi for a seamer – maybe Tendai Chatara.
Zimbabwe (possible): 1 Regis Chakabva (wk), 2 Takudzwanashe Kaitano, 3 Craig Ervine (capt.), 4 Wesley Madhevere, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Sikandar Raza, 7 Ryan Burl, 8 Tinotenda Mutombodzi, 9 Wellington Masakadza, 10 Blessing Muzarabani, 11 Richard Ngarava
Stats and rivia
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf