Zimbabwe did pretty well in the opening ODI and should be proud of their display, even if the game ended in a defeat for them.
To score 296-9 in Sri Lanka where big scores are not the norm was pretty impressive. The 80-run stand for the opening wicket between debutant Takudzwanashe Kaitano (42) and Regis Chakabva (72) laid the foundation for a big total and Sean Williams capitalized on it later with a brilliant 100.
Such was their batting brilliance at times that Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka was forced to use eight bowlers.
The African minnows’ lower order did not do much but we’re only nitpicking now.
The improvement they should want going forward should be their bowling, which did not get much joy, and saw their total breach nine balls earlier. Only Richard Ngarava made things happen, evident in his three-wicket haul.
Sri Lanka did appear a bit surprised with the comfort with which Zimbabwe batters, especially their openers, batted but then the Pallekele wicket had little help for their spin aces.
Pacers did get a bit of help but then it was nothing the batters couldn’t handle. And that is what the Lankan batters did too when it was their turn to bat.
Pathum Nissanka (71) scored his maiden ODI fifty and the pairing of Dinesh Chandimal (75) and Charith Asalanka (71) did the heavy lifting in the middle orders to help their side close to the target. Dasun Shanaka and Chamika Karunaratne eventually got their team home.
The second ODI is on the same venue as the first, meaning we should again expect seamers to get some help but the batters to have the last say. That calculation will, of course, change if the ground staff unveils a new deck completely different in nature to the one of the series opener.