Posts Tagged ‘Zimbabwe’

Goutham Chakravarthi

Mahela Jayawardene was right when he brushed aside talks of choking at the final stages of the big tournaments. After all, as one of the strongest contenders, looking too far ahead is the last distraction his team needs at the moment.

Zimbabwe came in after having scared Bangladesh and South Africa in a T20 tri-series recently and were expected to provide stiff opposition to the home team. But for their spinners, their performance was abysmal.

Jeevan Mendis contributed with both bat and ball © AFP

Watching the game from The Cricket Club Café in Colombo was special as it allowed picking the brains of cricket fans from all across the globe. Kyle Jarvis found some early swing. As debutante Dilshan Munaweere bunted a swinging low full-toss to the boundary, the tourists seemed as happy as the locals to have seen him straight in the playing XI. Ungainly fielding lapses helped the Lions to motor along at a rapid rate before the introduction of Utseya slowed things down a bit.The wickets might not be same as they were years ago, and the composition of Sri Lanka’s playing XI is a stark reminder of that. Gone are the days when their spinners squeezed the life out of opponents with their nagging accuracy. Instead, nippy medium-pacers in Kulasekara, Mathews and Perera are now their prime middle-over bowlers with Ajanta Mendis and Lasith Malinga providing the attacking options.

It was always going to be an uphill task for Zimbabwe against such an attack if they didn’t restrict the Lions to fewer than 150. Poor fielding and insipid bowling put paid to that as Sangakkara and Jeevan Mendis put on a crucial 94-run partnership, studded with some very imaginative and powerful stroke play by the southpaws. By the end, the Zimbabweans had run out of breath and were batted out of the game.

Kulasekara found early swing and troubled the Zimbabwean openers. Ajanta Mendis seems to have found mojo again after being back after a long injury lay off. Zimbabwe seemed clueless against him, as Mendis finished with figues of 6 for 8, one that is a bit hard to digest even in a high-school game.

ESPN Cricinfo’s The Two Chucks, Jarrod Kimber and Sam Collins, who were at The Clricket Club Café had different views on Ajanta Mendis. Kimber said, “I’d doubt if they’d even play Mendis in the latter stages of the tournament as most top teams have worked him out.” On the other hand, Sam Collins picked Sri Lanka as his favourite to win the World Cup.

Even as Zimbabwe seemed clueless against Jeevan Mendis and Ajanta Mendis, newly wed couple Kit and Kate Stephenson from the UK seemed unequivocal of their favourites – Sri Lanka.

As Malinga came back to finish a very one-sided opening game to this edition of World T20, it is quite obvious that Sri Lanka have all bases covered and would be one of the strongest contenders for the tile. While no team coming in to the tournament was a runaway favourite, Sri   Lanka might have their noses ahead of others at the moment.

I, for one, would not be surprised to see Akila Danajaya force his way in to the playing XI in the later stages of the tournament at the expense of Ajanta Mendis. It seems to be the norm with Sri Lankan think tank with mystery spinners.

A long way to go yet, but Sri Lanka would be glad to have avoided an early blip.

This article was written for Island Cricket and first published there


 Srikrishnan Chandrasekaran

 14 August 2011

The two one-day series in Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka are both two matches old with Australia and Zimbabwe taking 2-0 leads. Here is a round-up of the first two games of both series.
Zimbabwe Vs Bangladesh:

Brian Vitori has started his international career with a bang against Bangladesh

A young boy, Vitori, being 21 years of age made his debut in the one-off Test for Zimbabwe, started off with two consecutive five wicket hauls. He has got decent pace, and more importantly, he moves the ball away from the left-hander and into right-hander. He might be the youngest cricketer to take 5 wickets haul in his first two matches. Utseya on the other hand continued to show his good skills of spin bowling. Taylor started off well with two tosses in a row and put the opposition in and bowled them to a reasonable total which they chased without much difficulty. The Zimbabwe batsmen Sibanda and Masakadza have shown a lot of character and played good cricket against Bangladeshi spinners to take their team to victory. This is a very good start to the 5 match series for Zimbabwe. The top order of Bangaldesh team collapsed on both the matches and middle order / lower order players made a decent progress to put up a score to fight for. The captain has made good progress in both batting and bowling on the 2 matches. Team Zimbabwe is just a win away from their ODI series win. Bangladesh have put lot of work to give a fight on the upcoming matches.

Sri Lanka Vs Australia:

Mitchell Johnson has starred with the ball for Australia in the ODIs in Sri Lanka

Dilshan won 2 consecutive tosses, elected to bat but his batsmen haven’t been able to put up a decent score against top class Austraklian bowling on good batting tracks. Australia has dominated the series so far with their strong pace bowling attack and their batsmen showing good skill in handling the pace and spin of Sri Lanka. Senior batsmen in the Sri Lankan line-up are yet to score big runs in the series. Once again in the lower order Kulasekara shows lot of potential as a batsmen. On both occasions Australia won the match with lot of overs and wickets spare. Sri Lanka need to work really hard to win the series from here (0-2). They can probably try promoting Mahela as opener and push Tharanga down to no. 4. They can also give a chance to Charma silva / Samaraweera instead of Chandimal. Australia lost both the T20 matches, but have come back very strongly on the ODIs. The bowlers have done a fantastic job so far which has eased their batsmen to bat without the pressures of chasing big totals.

Let’s hope for a come back from both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the upcoming matches. The Asia teams are really struggling in last 2 weeks or so to put a decent score / fight against their opposition. Not too much to cheer about for the Asian teams.

 Srikrishnan Chandrasekaran

 9 August 2011

Zimbabwe has pulled off a remarkable come back into test cricket with a win over Bangladesh on their one-off test match series in Zimbabwe. This is a significant achievement for Zimbabwe as they have not played much test cricket at the international level for several years.

Brendan Taylor led Zimbabwe to a winning return to Test cricket.

The coachwof Zimbabwe has invested lot of time and hard work to form a team which has not played much cricket on International front to form a winning team. The two teams on show comprised of lot of young players and it was really good to see them played the test match that was well contested over five days.

As the current trend is for players is to opt to play for shorter formats of Cricket, this match will teach a lesson to the other cricket playing nation about the true value of test cricket. The match had total runs of 1100-plus, 35 wickets, 2 centuries, 2 four wicket hauls which were good good signs between 2 lowest level test playing nation and that their players had it in them to put performances required in the longest format.

Zimbabwe has shown great level of patience and character as the Bangladesh team contains lot of spinners who had really done great work in ODIs and Test cricket against the Asian Countries. Bangladesh will be disappointed that they could’t pull off a victory as was expected of them and they will feel disappointed. The home team has lot of reasons to enjoy and this will really accelerate the momentum for Zimbabwe in cricket arena. Declaration at the right time from the captain and three wickets at the end of day 4 which really set-up the Zimbabwe win.

Let’s hope they can build on it and go back to the heady days of being able to compete with the best which they did not so long ago.