The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
IN 2017, Zimbabwe made history when they defeated Sri Lanka 3-2 in a One Day International cricket series played in the Asian country.
The win was Zimbabwe’s first series ever triumph against Sri Lanka. It was their first away series win since 2009 and the first away series win against a Test nation since defeating Bangladesh in 2001. Not only that, it was also Zimbabwe’s first win in a five-match series away from home.
At that time, Zimbabwe were coached by Heath Streak with the captain being Graeme Cremer. Both men are no longer involved the national side as Streak is serving an eight year ban imposed on him by the International Cricket Council for corruption, while Cremer put his career on hold at the beginning of 2019 with chances of him returning slim.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe set off on a trip to Sri Lanka where they will play three ODIs. The three fixtures carry a lot of significance as they are part of the International Cricket Council Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, the qualification pathway for next year’s World Cup to be played in India.
The ODI series will be played at the Pallekele Stadium in the central city of Kandy on 16, 18 and 21 January.
Zimbabwe have found the going tough in the Super League as they are bottom of the 13-team log with 25 points. The Chevrons have picked up just two wins in the nine matches they have played, these wins over Pakistan and Ireland while one fixture against the Irish produced a no result.
Sri Lanka on the other hand have picked up four wins from the 15 matches they have played while they also got points from a no result, which sees them sixth on the log.
Fast-bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake has been named as Sri Lanka’s interim head coach for the ODI series against Zimbabwe. South African Mickey Arthur quit as head coach of Sri Lanka last month to take up a similar post at English county side Derbyshire.
The Zimbabwean team left via South Africa yesterday on a trip that took them to Kenya, Tanzania, Qatar and eventually the Sri Lankan capital city, Colombo, where they are only arriving on Monday morning.
All-rounder Ryan Burl, one of the players who was in form in matches played last year seemed excited about the tour of Sri Lanka.
“Off to @OfficialSLC today for our Cricket World Cup super league matches. Really happy that we are still able to travel and play these matches in these times,’’ tweeted Burl.
Another all-rounder, Sikandar Raza also seemed excited by the trip to Sri Lanka. Just like Burl, Raza feels that embarking on any trip amid the coronavirus pandemic is tough. Raza commended Zimbabwe Cricket for managing to secure flights during such trying times.
“Honoured to be part of the team traveling to #SriLanka. Traveling in #COVID19 times is certainly really hard. Well done to @ZimCricket for finding the flights. Looking forward to series vs @OfficialSLC. Boys Requesting prayers,’’ posted Raza.
Veteran batsman, Craig Ervine will lead Zimbabwe in the three matches after he captained the team in their visits to Ireland and Scotland last year.
This will be coach Lalchand Rajput’s first tour in charge after his contract was renewed. Despite clear indications that the team was retrogressing under the Indian national after his first appointment in 2018, ZC decided to ignore statistics and offered Rajput a fresh deal when his initial contract expired at the end of September last year.
Questions have, however, been asked about Rajput’s commitment to his job as he was not part of Zimbabwe’s preparation for the trip to Sri Lanka. He will link up with the team in Sri Lanka from India.
Zimbabwe squad for Sri Lanka tour:
Craig Ervine (captain), Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Luke Jongwe, Takudzwanashe Kaitano, Clive Madande, Wessley Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Sean Williams