Sri Lanka’s top-order batting failure is a headache, and they expected to make a few changes in the third and final ODI against Zimbabwe scheduled to be played today at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium, commencing from 2.30 pm. However, the current weather might interrupt the game once again.
Opener Avishka Fernando couldn’t make runs during the last two games, and most probably selectors will look for young Shevon Daniel or Nuwanidu Fernando to open the game today. Shevon Daniel was not included in the 17-member squad, but selectors consider young Daniel, who played the last practice game at the R. Premadasa Stadium and has been among the runs in the ongoing Major Club Limited Overs Cricket Tournament for the SSC side. Nuwanidu Fernando who got a chance to play for the National side as an opener, has proved his abilities as a middle-order batter and is a good choice for today’s game.
Meanwhile, experienced Dasun Shanaka once again failed to impress in the last two ODIs, raising doubts about his place in the team. Both Kusal Mendis, the skipper, and Shanaka are playing under more pressure, which is the main issue for both players. However, after winning the second game, Shanaka blamed the Sri Lanka batters for their poor performance while giving credit to the bowlers who restricted Zimbabwe to 208.
Especially skipper Mendis, who was a first-ball duck in the last game, survived with a no-ball, and when the match resumed after rain, Mendis made a poor stroke and luckily the fielder dropped the catch. But in the same over bowled by Richard Ngarava, Mendis once again gave a catch to be dismissed.
Mendis’ batting style is questionable but he is a talented batter and the best way is to build up his mindset. Dasun Shanaka also has the same issue, said a cricket expert.
Charith Asalanka played a fighting century in the first ODI and newcomer Janith Liyanage played a remarkable knock under pressure. The cricket expert questioned why experienced players like Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, and Sadeera Samarawickrama couldn’t build long innings, pointing out that there’s no point in changing selectors, cricket administrators or the cricket coaches; instead, the mindset and the attitude of Sri Lanks’s senior players have to change. Including a psychologist or a motivator in the team, the cricket expert suggested.
Wanindu Hasaranga the champion spinner who has already been named T-20 captain, missed both ODIs, but he has less chance today. Selectors hope to get the services of Jeffrey Vandersay and Maheesh Theekshana with two pacemen Dilshan Madushanka and experienced Dushmantha Chameera ahead of Pramod Madushan. If Dasun Shanaka misses his chance today, Janith Liyanage has to bowl more as a third seamer. Young Dunith Wellalage, who was on the bench, got a chance to play Colts CC and he was able to pick up four wickets yesterday against Kurunegala YCC game played at Colts grounds.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe led by Craig Ervine is ready to make a good battle today. They are pleased to have taken early Sri Lanka wickets in the last game while paceman Richard Ngarava took his maiden five-wicket haul to restrict Sri Lanka’s innings.
Ngarava the most successful bowler of Zimbabwe said that the way his bowling at the R.Premadasa International Cricket Stadium is good. I am excited to bowl once again today to make an early impact. I worked hard to get training in Sri Lanka and have already achieved successful results. We are a very young inexperienced side compared to Sri Lanka but the way we competed in the second game was exceptional, added Ngarava the left-arm paceman.
Skipper Craig Ervine did well as a batter and we want to give good supporting roles to him, hoping Zimbabwe will perform better to equal the series, added Ngarava.
The first ODI was washed out after Sri Lanka scored 274 and Zimbabwe was able to score 208 in the second game and Sri Lanka reached that target with two wickets in hand with one over to spare.
Today Sri Lanka will fight to win the series 2-0 while Zimbabwe is expected to level the series. With the aim to attract more spectators today’s match will be free of charge for the spectators.