ODI series preview: Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe

It is a rare opportunity for Zimbabwe to play a five match ODI series against a fellow full ICC member when they visit Sri Lanka.

Fittingly Sri Lanka have opted to host the first ODIs in Galle since 2000 to get the series underway.

Sri Lanka have been exceptionally poor in ODI cricket in the last 24 months with their win over India in the Champions Trophy a rare ray of hope in a dark time.

As poor as they have been there is no reason to believe they won’t achieve a whitewash of their African opponents who have been in a complete shambles for years, not helped by a schedule that has exiled them into the cricketing wilderness.

Zimbabwe might smell blood in the water though with Graham Ford stepping down as coach and Lasith Malinga handed a suspended six month ban for breach of contract.

Sri Lanka undoubtedly have the personnel to put Zimbabwe to the sword but will need to be wary of the scrappy Zimbos who are improving under new coach Heath Streak.

The hosts have opted to give opportunities to a number of fringe players like Amila Aponso, Akila Dananjaya and Dushmantha Chameera as well as handing a maiden call to 19-year-old leg-spinning allrounder Wanidu Hasaranga who has impressed in his thus far brief domestic career averaging over 45 with the bat in first class cricket while taking 12 List A wickets at an average of 15.50.

The Zimbabwe squad has a settled feel to it with left-arm tweaker Wellington Masakadza coming into the group that is laden with spinning options.

Graeme Cremer will play a big role for the visitors as their lead spinner while the up and down form of opener Solomon Mire is a concern for Streak’s men.