Harare: Giant-killer Zimbabwe will hope to cap their fairytale campaign with yet another stunning display while revenge will be high on Sri Lanka's agenda in the final of the cricket tri-series here on Wednesday.
Even though both India and Sri Lanka sent second-string squads for the low-profile tournament, few expected Zimbabwe to emerge as the table-topper with 13 points in their kitty.
The minnows twice beat India and both were comprehensive victories. As if to prove it was no fluke, they thumped Sri Lanka in Monday's dead rubber as well to finish their league campaign with three victories from four outings.
Key to their fortune has been Brendan Taylor's sensational form that has already earned the opener three Man of the Match awards.
In Taylor, Zimbabwe have got a batsman who have the skill and the temperament to see them through.
Hamilton Masakadza, Chamu Chibhabha, Tatenda Taibu and Charles Coventry are no dud with the bat either and they would put their best foot forward tomorrow to lift the title they have come so close to.
There bowling has been a revelation as well, especially their battery of spin bowlers. The likes of Ray Price, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer have not only been accurate but also aggressive and the spirited support they got from the fielders made them all the more lethal.
In Monday's match, Sri Lanka threatened to run away with the game when Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga added 122 runs in 20-odd overs. Utseya's double strike then unhinged the Lankans and the Zimbabwean eventually bowled them out for 236 inside 48 overs.
Sri Lanka, however, would do everything tomorrow to prevent a repeat.
Skipper Dilshan will particularly expect Dinesh Chandimal, who scored his maiden ODI century against India the other day, to come good tomorrow and underline his talent with another significant knock.
In the bowling department, onus would be on Thilan Thushara and Dilhara Fernando to provide the early breakthrough and remove Taylor at the earliest.
Zimbabwe Opener Brendan Taylor has been consistent this series but it's Hamilton Masakadza who provides Zimbabwe the X-factor at the top.
Squad from Elton Chigumbura (capt), Andy Blignaut, Chamu Chibhabha, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Greg Lamb, Hamilton Masakadza, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price, Ed Rainsford, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya.
Sri Lanka Don't look beyond Sri Lanka's best new-ball operator Nuwan Kulasekara. He has a wonderful wrist position at release and he can either cut the ball in or get it to go through straight without discernible difference in his action.
Squad from Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Chamara Kapugedera, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thilan Thushara, Ajantha Mendis, Jeevan Mendis, Dilhara Fernando, Chamara Silva, Thissira Perera.
Stats and trivia
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Start time 09:00 local (07:00 GMT)