Zimbabwe will take on Sri Lanka in the first One-Day International of the triangular series at Harare Sports Club on Monday (November 14). West Indies is the third team in the mix, and all of them will play each other twice – a total of six round-robin games – before the final on November 27 in Bulawayo.
Sri Lanka goes into the first match as favourites, buoyed by the 2-0 Test series win over Zimbabwe last week. However, looking for a change in fortunes in the shorter format, the home side has rung in a lot of changes, dropping as many as eight players – including the experienced Vusi Sibanda, Richmond Mutumbami and Tendai Chatara – from the squad that lost 3-0 to India at home in June.
Sri Lanka will continue to miss the experience of Angelo Mathews, the captain, and Dinesh Chandimal, the vice-captain, who missed the Test series and are still recovering from injuries. In their absence, Rangana Herath led the Test squad, while Upul Tharanga will lead in the ODIs with Kusal Perera serving as his deputy.
The move could perhaps benefit Sri Lanka as Tharanga is in a positive frame of mind after scoring an unbeaten century and a half-century in the first and second Tests respectively – the 110 not out in the first innings of the first Test was his first century in the format in more than a decade.
Tharanga, who had returned to the ODI team during the tour of England and Ireland earlier this year, was initially left out of the home series against Australia, and only played the fifth ODI after the series had been conceded.
Despite the missing men, Sri Lanka is a well-rounded unit with Nuwan Kulasekara, Nuwan Pradeep and the uncapped Lahiru Kumara forming their pace attack, while the all-round options include Sachith Pathirana, Dasun Shanaka and the uncapped Asela Gunaratne. Lakshan Sandakan, Shehan Jayasuriya and Jeffrey Vandersay are spin-bowling options. The batting looks comparatively more experienced with Tharanga and Perera, as well as Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Shehan Jayasuriya and others.