Mathews wants clean sweep to improve ranking


Lasith Malinga takes part in a practice session at Galle International Cricket Stadium in Galle yesterday, June 29 ahead of the first one-day internationals against Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe will play one Test and five 50-over ODIs starting today in Galle.(Ishara S. Kodikara / AFP)

Rex Clementine in Galle

Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews stressed that his side will be keen for a 5-0 whitewash against 11th ranked Zimbabwe in a bid to boost his team’s dismal rankings. Sri Lanka are ranked eighth in ODI cricket but a 5-0 series win will enable them to secure the seventh spot over Bangladesh.

"We don’t want to take them lightly. If we can win 5-0 it will be good, but we are not thinking too far ahead but taking one game at a time. The outcome of a 5-0 win would be ideal but you have got to play good cricket to beat them even though it is our home conditions," Mathews told journalists yesterday.

Zimbabwe’s form hasn’t been that great in recent times. They lost their best batsman Brendon Taylor and the best fast bowler Kyle Jarvis to English county cricket. They arrived in Colombo straight after a tour of Europe where they were beaten by lower ranked Scotland and Netherlands.

"Bit disappointing to lose those two games. We should have won 2-0 in Scotland and 3-0 in Netherlands. But these things can happen. We were sort of trying to find out our best combination to play Sri Lanka so we were trying to do a few experiments. When we lost to Netherlands, we rested a few of our guys," Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer noted.

Four of the tourists were down with flu but Cremer expected everyone to be fit for the game. Left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza was hurt while training and was taken to Colombo for scans.

"He had to go to Colombo for a scan, but not looking great at the moment. Hopefully we will get to know by tomorrow the situation," Cremer noted.

Upul Tharanga is back after serving a two-match suspension during the ICC Champions Trophy. All eyes will be on 19-year-old local hero Wanindu Hasaranga, who is set to make his debut. The last time Galle hosted an ODI was 17 years ago and on that instance another outstanding cricketer was making his debut. Kumar Sangakkara is his name.

Hasaranga, a product of Richmond College, Galle also bowls leg-spin and according to Cricket Manager Asanka Gurusinha, is the best fielder in the country.

Sri Lanka drafted in left-arm spinner Amila Aponso in the last minute further boosting the spin options in the 14-member squad.

Sri Lanka have never lost a game to Zimbabwe at home. They have in fact lost only one game to the Zimbabweans in the last 13 years. Head to head these teams have played in 50 games with Sri Lanka winning 41 and Zimbabwe winning seven. Two games ended in no results.

Sri Lanka:

Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Angelo Mathews (Captain), Upul Tharanga, Wanidu Hasaranga, Lahiru Madushanka, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga and Amila Aponso.


Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Ryan Burl, Graeme Cremer (Captain), Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chatara, Chris Mpofu, Donald Tiripano, Richard Ngarava, Wellington Masakadza, Malcolm Waller, Chamu Chibhabha and Tarisai Musakanda.

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