Bulawayo: This series was supposed to be an opportunity to showcase Zimbabwe cricket to the world. Sri Lanka chose to rest some players and test a few others in this competition.
No one really seemed to notice for the whole day, but as the Sri Lankans made their way into the nets for the late afternoon practice session on Monday, the reminder that Dilshan had lost his first game in charge of Sri Lanka polarised the side into a state of seriousness.
Captaincy surely hasn't been a walk in the park for the 33-year old from Kalutara. "It has been very difficult. You have to constantly be on your toes. I am not allowed to think as a batsman anymore. I need to have my captaincy hat on always, including at practice sessions. The job comes with a lot of pressure, but then again, it is an honour to lead the country," Dilshan says.
Dilshan though, is confident that he will not make the same mistake that India did in the opening match of the tri-series. "We will not take Zimbabwe lightly. I said at the start of the tournament that we are all evenly matched sides in this tournament, and I stick by it. Zimbabwe proved how good they are against India and I want every player to give their 100 per cent. A loss will be a lethal blow to our chances in the tournament, which a young side like ours cannot possibly afford," he adds.
The health of the pitch has received rave reviews from the critics in Bulawayo, and Dilshan believes that it is one of the better wickets he has played on. "There's something in it for everybody, it is an excellent ODI wicket. There's a good amount of spin, seam and bounce. For the batsmen, it is a real test of their abilities. The curator has done a fantastic job," Dilshan explains.
Curator Doug Higgins is pleased with the feedback. "We leave as much grass on it as possible. What's the point of pulling it all out and making it a batting dugger? The scores have been just ideal for one day cricket and it will be fair to say that I'm happy with the result," says Higgins.
The mood was much lighter at the Zimbabwean camp, as the hangover from their win over India hadn't yet erased completely. With the coaching staff Alan Butcher, Heath Streak and Dave Houghton watching closely, Elton Chigumbura's men ironed out their flaws and built on their new-found confidence. It was in stark contrast to the Sri Lankan session in almost every respect, except for the chilly weather and the unchanged manual scoreboard.
Zimbabwe Ray Price doesn't even bother to hide that almost maniacal hatred of the batsmen.
Squad from Elton Chigumbura (C), Chamu Chibhabha, Graeme Cremer, Greg Lamb, Chris Mpofu, Ed Rainsford, Tatenda Taibu (WK), Prosper Utseya, Andy Blignaut, Charles Coventry, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor (WK)
Sri Lanka Tharanga is an unlikely candidate to replace the more popular and the more attacking Sanath Jayasuriya but his job has been made relatively easier by Jayasuriya's recent failures. Tharanga, though, has to score consistently to make that spot his own.
Squad from Tillakaratne Dilshan (C), Angelo Mathews (VC), Dinesh Chandimal (WK), Dilhara Fernando, Suraj Randiv, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis, Jeewan Mendis, Thissara Perera, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Upul Tharanga, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thilan Thushara
Stats and trivia
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Start time 09:00 local (07:00 GMT)