The three-match ODI series between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe will get underway on 16 January at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. The two sides last played a five-match ODI series in 2017, in Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe had won the last two matches to clinch that series 3-2.
With 42 points from 15 matches, Sri Lanka are seventh in the World Cup Super League points table. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, are languish at the bottom, with 25 points from nine matches.
Sri Lanka will be desperate to win all three games to keep their direct qualification to 2023 ODI World Cup slim hopes alive. However, without some key players like Wanindu Hasaranga, Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando and Dhananjaya de Silva, the task is not going to be an easy one.
Sri Lanka have recalled Kusal Mendis and Jeffrey Vandersay and also added three uncapped fast bowlers, Nuwan Thushara, Chamika Gunasekara and Shiran Fernando. They will hope Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka to continue their good forms with bat, while Maheesh Theekshana and Praveen Jayawickrama will be the keys among spinners.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, will miss head coach Lalchand Rajput, who tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the series. Takudzwanashe Kaitano is likely to receive his maiden ODI cap in the absence of recently retired Brendan Taylor. If they manage to stage an upset, Blessing Muzarabani and Regis Chakabva must play crucial roles.
There are scattered thunderstorms predicted during the match, though in short bursts. A full 100 overs of play may still be possible.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (c), Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Kamindu Mendis, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Maheesh Theekshana, Praveen Jayawickrama.
Zimbabwe: Craig Ervine (c), Regis Chakabva (wk), Takudzwanashe Kaitano, Wesley Madhevere, Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Ryan Burl, Wellington Masakadza, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava.
Betway Fantasy Tips
- Place your bet on Zimbabwe. Fast bowlers generally get more help than spinners in Pallekele, so make Muzarabani captain.
- Pick as many all-rounders as possible. Williams can be a good vice-captain choice.
- Do not ignore Kusal Mendis. He is returning to international cricket after being suspended over a bio-bubble breach in Durban last year. He will be in focus.
Dasun Shanaka, Craig Ervine, Regis Chakabva, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Sean Williams (vc), Sikandar Raza, Blessing Muzarabani (c), Maheesh Theekshana, Praveen Jayawickrama.