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ZIM v SL, 1st Test Preview: Rejuvenated Lankans take on Zimbabwe at Harare

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s captain Angelo Mathews (2L) celebrates with teammates. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Having finally agreed to play a quick series in Zimbabwe, the Sri Lankans will most certainly be increasing their profile as a Test team on overseas tours. While the general billing for the Zimbabweans would be the fact that they are receiving more Test cricket, this tour carries a different proposition as far as the Sri Lankans are concerned.

One of those would most certainly be the fact that Rangana Herath has taken over as the skipper with Angelo Mathews being the withdrawn player from the side. The second would be the fact that Sri Lanka would be looking to test their youth players who have been given limited chances in the starting XI due to the ongoing transition the Lankans are going through at the moment.

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Team Analysis

Zimbabwe

The hosts have seemingly been given what they have wished for following their pleas to the ICC for more Test cricket. However, in spite of that, there have been little or no signs of improvement especially following the winless series against New Zealand. This time around, with Heath Streak taking his rightful place on the coaching staff of the hosts, things are definitely expected to get better for the hosts.

As far as the team selection goes, Peter Moor will be one of the few individuals who would be included in the side as a backup wicketkeeper. Hamilton Masakadza will be an important member at the top of the order with the likes of Malcolm Waller and Craig Ervine adding solidity to the batting unit. The loss of Chamu Chibhabha is one of the significant absentees from the squad.

Sri Lanka

In spite of missing a few international players, the islanders remain to be a formidable unit. It is also an exciting time given the fact that 38-year old evergreen left-arm spinner Rangana Herath will be well and truly back into the grand scheme of things as skipper this time around. Everyone has seen him skittle batsmen and whether Herath can pull this off the captaincy role.

The Lankans will be missing two pillars in their eleven in the form of Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews. While these two will be missed, the others will have to step up to the plate. These players include the likes of Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne. Lahiru Gamage is expected to make a return to the side following the absence of Dhammika Prasad and Shaminda Eranga.

Probable XI

Zimbabwe:

Graeme Cremer (C), Regis Chakvaba (wk), Hamilton Masakadza, Peter Moor, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Malcolm Waller/Craig Ervine, Tino Mawoyo, Chris Mpofu, Donald Tiripano,Brian Chari

Sri Lanka:

Rangana Herath (C), Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Asela Gunaratne, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal

StAttack:

1. The last time Zimbabwe won a Test series was way back in 2011 against Bangladesh. The last time Sri Lanka played at the Harare Sports Club, the clinched an innings victory.

2. Dimuth Karunaratne requires 208 runs to complete 2000 Test match runs.

3. Rangana Herath requires 18 wickets to complete 350 wickets in Test matches. He will become only the third Sri Lankan bowler to achieve this feat after Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas.

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