Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe Second ODI Preview and Prediction: Can Sri Lanka Wrap Up Series Victory?

Pathum Nissanka in ODI action for Sri Lanka.
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Sri Lanka have hardly gone from strength to strength in their ODI cricket of late. They have played more matches than any team except Ireland in the current World Cup Super League cycle, but started this series with just four wins to their name. Zimbabwe have found things even more difficult. Both will be desperate for a win here as a result. Read on for LWOC’s full Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe Second ODI Preview and Prediction?

Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe Second ODI Preview and Prediction

Series So Far

After the humiliation of losing at home to a below-strength India side, Sri Lanka managed to bounce back to beat South Africa on home turf, claiming some vital Super League points in the process. They continued that resurgence in their first match against Zimbabwe, albeit with a rather new look side. Zimbabwe managed to set a relatively imposing target of 297, largely thanks to a century from Sean Williams, but the Sri Lankans chased down the target comfortably in the end.

Pathum Nissanka scored a crucial 75 at the top of the order, before similarly sized contributions from Dinesh Chandimal and Charith Asalanka took the Sri Lankans almost to the finish line. Richard Ngarava did strike twice for Zimbabwe to remove both set batters, but it was too little too late to make a difference to the outcome as Dasun Shanaka and Chamika Karunaratne steered Sri Lanka safely home with nine balls to spare and five wickets in hand.

Expected Teams

This series may not provide much indication as to the long-term direction of the Sri Lankan ODI set up, with several players including Wasindu Hasaranga, Avishka Fernando and Kusal Perera, almost certain to return in the future. But in the short-term, why change a winning team? Expect Nissanka and Kusal Mendis to open the batting once again, with Kamindu Mendis and Chandimal to come in at three and four, with Asalanka slotting in at five.

Captain Shanaka will keep his place batting at six with Karunaratne, who was in the wickets in the first match, coming in at seven. Chamika Gunasekara, who managed just one over in the first match, is set to miss out with injury with either Nuwan Thushara or Shiran Fernando in line to replace him. Jeffrey Vandersay, Maheesh Theekshana and Nuwan Pradeep, who all enjoyed solid outings in the first match of the series, should round out the side.

Zimbabwe can be broadly happy with their efforts in the first ODI, even if it did end in defeat. There have been very few wins for the team in this, or any other, format of late, so the first step to rebuilding is largely to be competitive. World Cup qualification, a must for their opponents, looks more like a pipe dream for the Zimbabweans. But they will be hoping for another strong opening combination from Takudzwanashe Kaitano and keeper-batsman Regis Chakabva.

Captain Craig Ervine will be hoping to improve on the nine he made batting at three in the first match, but Zimbabwe could ask little more of Williams from four after his excellent century. A concern may be the lack of middle and lower order runs, however, with Wesley Madhevere, Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl unable to press on in the death overs. Ngarava was excellent with the ball, and Blessing Muzarabani also bowled well, but Zimbabwe will be hoping for more from Tendai Chatara and Wellington Masakadza.

Prediction

Zimbabwe played well enough in the first innings to suggest that they can make a match of this, particularly as Pallekele is one of the more seam-friendly grounds in Sri Lanka and the tourists’ pace bowling stocks are unquestionably stronger than their spinning options. But Sri Lanka have that much more quality throughout the side and a greater familiarity with the conditions. That should be enough to take them to a series victory.

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