It will be a significant affair when Sri Lanka take on Zimbabwe in the second game of the tri-series today. Firstly, it will be the 100th ODI hosted by the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium in Mirpur in a span of 11 years, the fastest among the six venues to have reached the landmark.
Secondly, it will be Chandika Hathurusingha's first assignment as head coach of Sri Lanka since resigning as Bangladesh coach. It will also be a quest for Zimbabwe to recover from the comprehensive defeat against the hosts in the first game, and to do that they can draw confidence from their historic 3-2 series win in the Lankans' backyard in July last year.
Graeme Cremer's side were totally outplayed in their eight-wicket defeat to the Tigers in the first game, when their batting let Zimbabwe down as they were bundled out for just 170.
The likes of Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza and Craig Ervine will look to make bigger contributions with the bat alongside Sikandar Raza, who scored a fifty in the first game and steadied the ship with Peter Moor.
“Obviously, a different opposition tomorrow. We did not have a great start to the tournament but we are looking to rectify the mistakes to bring ourselves back into contention,” Masakadza told reporters after the training session in Mirpur yesterday.
Zimbabwe's bowling was also not up to the mark against Bangladesh as the visitors were unable to even threaten the hosts. Heath Streak and his charges will definitely want to come up with better plans and execution on the field.
From Sri Lanka's point of view, Hathurusingha will surely come up with something out of the box and surprise the opposition, whether it is the little known Shehan Madushanka who caught the coach's eye for his sheer pace or revolving the experienced campaigners like Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal with the bat and skipper Angelo Matthews, who will restart his journey as ODI captain since resigning just six months ago.
“It is quite difficult to motivate yourself when you are not doing well. But this is our job. You have to motivate yourselves. The guys are all motivated. Just one or two losses won't put us into a bad situation. Just a few months ago we beat the strong Indian side. It is the same team; we have the skills and talent. We have to go out there and enjoy,” Matthews said before the training session yesterday.
The pitch at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium is expected to remain the same as it was in the first game, offering more to the spinners along with runs as the game progresses.