Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka will fight it out in the Blue Mountain Achilleion Cup final at Bulawayo’s Queens Sports Club this Sunday, six years after their last meeting in a tri-series final which the tourists won by nine wickets.
While the memories of that final have somehow faded, the hosts will also quickly want to forget their eight-wicket loss at the hands of Sri Lanka in the first match of the current tri-series played at Harare Sports Club a fortnight ago.
Sri Lanka go into tomorrow’s final as the favourites, hoping to cap what has certainly been a great tour – which includes their Test series win over Zimbabwe – by lifting the one-day international tri-series trophy.
“The last few weeks have been really good for us and if we can continue that form we can win the final. But, still, it is not going to be easy. We will have to do all the basic things quite correctly,” Sri Lanka captain Upul Tharanga said on the eve of the final.
But Zimbabwe, buoyed by their spirited performances against West Indies, the third side in the tri-series, will fancy their chances of upsetting the Sri Lankans.
Following their thrilling tie at Queens Sports Club last Saturday, the hosts edged the Caribbean islanders by five runs, using the Duckworth-Lewis method, when they met again at the same venue on Friday.
And thanks to that win, Zimbabwe made it to tomorrow’s final.
“We are very confident, the guys are up for it, and we want to take the momentum from the West Indies games into the final,” Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer said.
Five Zimbabwe players who featured in the last tri-series final against Sri Lanka, in June 2010, are still active. They are Cremer, Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, Elton Chigumbura and Christopher Mpofu.
For Sri Lanka, Tharanga and Nuwan Kulasekara are the only active players from that final.
Zimbabwe are yet to beat Sri Lanka in a one-day international match at Queens Sports Club – which will be hosting an international tournament final for the first time.
Out of the six matches played between these two teams at this venue, Sri Lanka have won four, while two matches ended as no-result.
Both sides will be hoping rain will not wash out the eagerly anticipated final. (Courtesy Wisden India)