BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The Zimbabwe cricket team is keen to bounce back from the disappointing loss in the first Test and beat visiting Sri Lanka in the second of the match series, which begins at Harare Sports Club this morning.
But they will have to do it without top pace bowler Kyle Jarvis, who reportedly failed to recover from a knock that he suffered in the first Test.
However, top order batsman Kevin Kasuza is almost certain to make a comeback into the fold after he trained with the rest of the team in the past couple of days.
Kasuza suffered a delayed concussion after he was hit by the ball while fielding.
Sri Lanka lead the series 1-0 courtesy of an emphatic 10-wicket victory in the first match.
Inspired by the heart-breaking defeat last week, the hosts will be looking to win their first Test match victory since a 153-run triumph over Bangladesh in November 2018 and a first over Sri Lanka.
Batting coach Stuart Matsikenyeri believes the team needs little motivation after the first Test defeat
“There was a lot of work that went into preparing for this Test match and in the match itself. The guys did a lot of good work and to just come an hour short of saving the match hurt the guys, so they don’t need motivation,” Matsikenyeri told journalists in Harare yesterday.
“Just the way they came in and worked in the last two days shows you that they are keen to come in and make amends. A lot of the guys believe and know that they belong in international cricket and they just don’t want to survive (in matches), but they want to win matches for Zimbabwe. So the hunger is there and we just have to make good decisions out in the field, that is what’s going to make a difference,” the former Zimbabwe batsman added.
Matsikenyeri also challenged the middle order batsmen to step up in the second Test after letting the team down in the first match as well as the whole team to change the mental attitude.
Zimbabwe impressed with the bat last week with top three — debutant Kevin Kasuza, Prince Masvaure and Craig Ervine — hitting half centuries to set the platform for a decent 358 first innings total.
It was different in the second innings after the team was bowled out for just 170 to lose the match.
Sri Lanka are set to name an unchanged side as they use this series to prepare for their upcoming assignment against West Indies.
Bowlers Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Embuldeniya and Lahiru Kumara were all impressive in the first Test, while veteran batsman Angelo Matthews’ double century was the toast of the match.
Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva and wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella also scored vital half centuries to help Sri Lanka to a mammoth 515 for 9 total.
“We don’t have enough players to try out so we will have the same squad. We are trying to play the same squad to give them a chance to establish their place,” captain Dimuth Karunaratne said.
“The most important thing is the player need to get their confidence high, the batsmen need to score runs in this wicket and the bowlers did a good job but I think we need to improve.”
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe are set to tour Bangladesh in February-March for a one-off Test, three one-day internationals (ODIs) and two T20Is, according to the announcement made by the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
It is a welcome development for rebuilding Zimbabwe cricket, which has struggled for game time with top sides, especially in the Test arena.
Zimbabwe have been a regular visitor to Bangladesh. They went there for an ODI tri-series (including Sri Lanka) in January 2018.
Later that year, they played two Tests and three ODIs. Bangladesh whitewashed Zimbabwe in the ODIs, but the Tests were drawn 1-1.
Zimbabwe were also part of another tri-series in Bangladesh (with Afghanistan) last year. Zimbabwe managed only one win in that T20I tri-series.
February 22-26: Only Test, Mirpur
March 1: 1st ODI Chattogram
March 3: 2nd ODI Chattogram
March 6: 3rd ODI Chattogram
March 9: 1st T20I Mirpur
March 11: 2nd T20I Mirpur