Rangana Herath makes debut as Test captain

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Zimbabwe will play its landmark 100th Test when it takes on Sri Lanka in the first of the two-match series in Harare starting Saturday (October 29). It will be a special Test for Sri Lanka too, for the team has a new, albeit temporary, captain in Rangana Herath at the age of 38.

The home team’s recent results have not been favourable – Zimbabwe comes into the series having lost both Tests against New Zealand in its previous series by big margins – and it will hope that the milestone Test will usher the team into a new era.

Zimbabwe cricket is in a state of transition, with senior players gradually making way for youngsters. Vusi Sibanda, Elton Chigumbura and Chamu Chibhabha find no place in the squad, while Hamilton Masakadza is in search of runs.

Zimbabwe’s batting unit, though, still have some valuable experience in the form of Craig Ervine and Sean Williams in the middle order. Ervine will come into the game with a lot of confidence, having made a fighting 146 against New Zealand in his last Test. Masakadza might not be in the best of form, but he does add strength in a young batting line-up.

The Test series against Sri Lanka is also a great opportunity for some promising names to make a mark. Peter Moor, the wicketkeeper batsman, showed what he was capable of during his 71 on Test debut against New Zealand. Malcolm Waller is in good form too, making his way back to the Test side after scoring four consecutive half-centuries in the recent series against Pakistan A.

Zimbabwe also has an uncapped batsman in Tarisai Musakanda, the 21-year-old, who has made his way to the top after impressive performances in first-class cricket.

The home side’s bowling attack has been hit by injuries to Tendai Chatara and Tinashe Panyangara. Chris Mpofu and Carl Mumba, the uncapped seamer, will form the pace-bowling department.

Sri Lanka too has been hampered by injuries to Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal, forcing the selectors to name a new captain in Herath. However, Sri Lanka should be the favourite, having whitewashed Australia at home 3-0 in the team’s previous Test series. The big names are missing but there is no dearth of class in Sri Lanka’s batting line-up, with Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva in particular impressing against Australia. The dashing Kusal Perera also adds might to the line-up. Sri Lanka’s bowling attack is led by the skipper, who is fast establishing himself as one of his country’s best ever cricketers. He has younger spinning colleagues in Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan, the chinaman, for company. The pace attack will be led by Suranga Lakmal, and also has uncapped names in the 19-year-old Lahiru Kumara alongwith Lahiru Gamage.

The first Test will be a special one for Zimbabwe, but it will have to pull collectively to make it a memorable one.

Teams (from):

Zimbabwe:

Graeme Cremer (captain), Regis Chakabva (wk), Brian Chari, Michael Chinouya, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Peter Moor (wk), Chris Mpofu, Carl Mumba, Tarisai Musakanda, Taurai Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.

Sri Lanka:

Rangana Herath (captain), Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Lahiru Gamage, Asela Gunaratne, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Madushanka, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera (wk), Lakshan Sandakan, Kaushal Silva.

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