The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwe has played more Tests matches against Sri Lanka than any team in their 27-year Test history.
Zimbabawe’s last Test at Harare Sports Club was against Sri Lanka in 2016 — that was the 16th and 17th meeting between the two sides who then played a solitary Test in Colombo in 2017.
Test match number 19 is upon us and Zimbabwe are yet to beat Sri Lanka in the longest format of the game.
They have only managed five draws.
We are in the 2020s, the beginning of another decade and will things really change between the two teams?
The hosts have changes of their own- new captain in Sean Williams and some new faces (five debutants in their squad).
“It’s exciting for me to become captain, it really is a great honour,” said Williams.
“We having couple of debutants coming into the side, it’s fantastic for us.
“Discipline is what I am after, a lot of fight is what I am after and I am after good performances.
“Performances are going to be key in order for Zimbabwe to be moving forward especially in the Test arena,” said Williams.
His counterpart, Dimuth Karunaratne, says Sri Lanka, who welcome back senior paceman Suranga Lakmal, are looking for a confidence boost in this series against Zimbabwe.
Lakmal missed the previous Test against Pakistan through sickness.
“Winning is the number one target; we did not do well in Pakistan in the previous Test series, and we need to get some confidence from this series.
“Obviously, it’s not a Test championship game but I think it’s a tough game. We played against Zimbabwe last time and they had a really good game against us.
“Lakmal is our senior fast bowler — who has done a good job in the last few years, and we missed him in Pakistan.
“Our young fast bowlers couldn’t handle the pressure.
“It’s great to have him back with his experience,” said the Sri Lanka captain who said they have researched as much as possible about Zimbabwe’s new players.
“It’s not easy playing against guys you haven’t seen before, and we were trying to get some information about those guys.”
Sri Lanka are, however, favourites ahead of this match despite their 0-1 series loss against Pakistan last December. They will bank on the experience of their premier batsmen and former captain Angelo Mathews — who averages 43.87 after 84 Tests — and Dinesh Chandimal (55 Tests, average 41.35).
In the bowling department Lakmal is the most experienced with 141 wickets in 59 matches, while emerging left arm seamer Vishwa Fernando has shown potential with 21 wickets in seven matches.
Dilruwan Perera, the 37 –year-old off-break bowler, is expected to lead the spin attack for Sri Lanka.
Despite five fresh new faces Zimbabwe still have experience in the middle order with Craig Ervine (15 matches, average 33.60), Brendan Taylor (28 matches, average 35.38), Williams (10 matches, average 27.65), Sikandar Raza (34.08 average in 12 matches) and Regis Chakabva (14 matches, 26.07) all experienced at this level.
Eyes will also be on the skies as there is 80 percent chance of rain today.