After an entertaining start to the series with two high-scoring games, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe are set to meet in the series decider, with vital World Cup Super League points at stake for both, particularly the African side. But who will come out on top? Read on for our full Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe third ODI preview and prediction:
Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe Third ODI Preview and Prediction
Series So Far
Zimbabwean cricket has had a turbulent history. They remain a full-member nation, but they have struggled to ever compete with any real consistency in Test-match cricket and their record in the white-ball game isn’t all that much more impressive. But this current crop have been quietly scoring some impressive wins, including over Pakistan in Harare last Spring. The confidence they have presumably gained from such performances has been on display so far in this series.
It should be noted that Sri Lanka themselves are not currently one of the front-rank powers in the world game, but Zimbabwe can nonetheless take pride in the manner that they have competed in Pallekele. In the first match, they posted a solid target of 297, only to see the Sri Lankan batting order chase it down relatively comfortably in 48.3 overs. Undeterred, they topped 300 in the second match and thanks to some slight improvements in the bowling department, got the better of their hosts.
It would be a surprise to see any changes to the Zimbabwean team that played so effectively in the last match. Takudzwanashe Kaitano will be disappointed not to have kicked on after getting a start, and the same could probably be said of Regis Chakavba’s contribution, but it has been a solid enough series for both at the top of the order. Craig Ervine made a sharp improvement from the first match with 91 from 98 balls, whilst Sean Williams contributed again with a well-made 48.
Wesley Madhevere was again unable to offer much, scoring just one, but Sikandar Raza notched a vital half-century, and in quick time, with Ryan Burl also impressing in a late cameo that saw him score 19 off 15 balls. Importantly for Zimbabwe, Blessing Muzarabani, Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava and Wellington Masakadza were all in the wickets, with Chatara and Ngarava particularly impressive. Expect all four to play in this decider.
Sri Lanka may be less pleased with their batting line-up, but their performances have hardly been catastrophic. Pathum Nissanka missed out in the second match, but batted very well in the first and should keep his place at the top of the order alongside keeper-batsman Kusal Mendis. Kamindu Mendis’ 57 should be enough to earn him another crack at number three, with Dinesh Chandimal coming in at four. He’ll be hoping to recapture his touch from the first match where he made a vital 75.
Charith Asalanka was also unable to back up his contribution from the first match, but will have another chance to bat from five. Dasun Shanaka was the pick of the Sri Lankan batsman with a valiant hundred in their losing cause, whilst Chamika Karunaratne batted fluently for 34 until he was run out. The lower order of Dushmantha Chameera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Maheesh Theekshana and Nuwan Pradeep were unable to contribute anything of note with the bat, however.
This really could go either way on the basis of the series so far. The ground in Pallekele has had plenty in it for the seamers, which has probably been to Zimbabwe’s advantage, but it has not benefitted the tourists enough to make them outright favourites for this game. There is more depth and experience in the Sri Lankan side, however, and for all their recent struggles, they have a better record of getting across the line than their visitors. Expect them to have just about enough to edge to victory.
Prediction: Sri Lankan win.
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