Will 100th Test be lucky match?

HARARE - The Sri Lankans are in town and while most fans are debating how long Zimbabwe will last, only a handful of supporters are aware that Zimbabwe will be playing their 100th Test match when they take to the field for the first of two matches on Saturday at Harare sports Club.

Sri Lanka have had a topsy-turvy time of it of late.

They were outplayed by a rampant England team, but then bounced back in fine style to crush the Australians 3-0 in a home series, which many felt Australia would win, despite their inability to play spin.

A combination of typical Australian arrogance and complacency saw Sri Lanka outplay the Baggy Greens in every department, and although Australia salvaged some pride by winning the limited over series, Sri Lanka will be the more confident of the two teams when they face off in the two match series.

The tourists suffered a major setback when their skipper Angelo Mathews was ruled out of the tour due to injury, so talismanic left arm spinner Rangana Herath will lead the team in his absence.

The 39-year-old Herath was the chief destroyer in Sri Lanka’s 3-0 whitewash win over Australia, and will be well aware of Zimbabwe’s continued problems when facing spin, none more so then left arm spin.

Newly-appointed coach Heath Streak has spent a number of years on the sub continent and would have come across a number of left arm spinners, as well as pitches which suit the slower bowlers, and one hopes that he would be able to convince the board to prepare more livelier pitches than the low and slow pitches we have become accustom to over the last 10 or so years.

A slow and sluggish pitch will play right into the Sri Lankans’ hands, and Herath, who is one of the world’s best spinners would have an absolute field day, should we continue to prepare sub continental like pitches.

Zimbabwe have trimmed down their squad and left out John Nyumbu, Richmond Mutumbami and Brian Vitori, who according to reports felt he wasn’t ready for the demands and pressures of Test cricket, after undergoing a change of his bowling action.

If I were to be put on the spot and choose my starting line up, it would be as follows: 1. Tinotenda Mawoyo, 2. Brian Chari, 3. Hamilton Masakadza, 4. Sean Williams, 5. Craig Ervine, 6. PJ Moor, 7. Regis Chakabva, 8. Graeme Cremer, 9. Donald Tiripano, 10. Carl Mumba, 11. Chris Mpofu.

If you read last week’s column, you would have noted that I was a little hesitant of the inclusions of both Masakadza, due to lack of form and Mpofu due to lack of game time.

However, the selectors have shown faith in Masakadza, and the reason given is that he proved to be one of the few shining lights in Zimbabwe’s nightmare tour of Bangladesh back in 2014, and despite his lack of runs should be given another run at the top of the order.

Mpofu has by all accounts been bowling well, and because he is the spearhead of the seamers should be given the new ball.

Personally, I do still feel uneasy about both inclusions, however, if they have made the final squad, it would seem pretty senseless leaving them out.

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