By Enock Muchinjo
THE match between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka tomorrow in the on-going triangular Paktel Cup in Pakistan is an exciting prospect in the assessment of progress by the youthfu
l Zimbabwe side.
The Tatenda Taibu-captained side will savour the opportunity of yet another encounter with Sri Lanka, the side which gave most of the Zimbabwe team their first taste of international cricket when they were pre-maturely thrown into the international limelight in May. The Zimbabwean greenhorns were given a baptism of fire by the Asian giants who whitewashed them in both the Test and one-day international (ODI) series.
With that came a world record lowest ODI dismissal of 35 runs by the fire-breathing Sri Lankan pace bowling attack of Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa, who will be in the thick of things again tomorrow.
However, Zimbabwe seemed to have shrugged off the hapless boys’ tag and look to be firmly negotiating the learning curve. A battling performance at the ICC Champions Trophy against the Sri Lankans in England where they lost by four wickets, was ollowed by heavy defeats to a Pakistan Cricket Board XI in a warm-up match and to Pakistan in the first match of the triangular series last Thursday.
The inexperienced Zimbabwe, however, showed desire to learn and improve with a spirited four-wicket defeat to Pakistan in their second match on Sunday.
Encouraging for Zimbabwe in the last two matches was the batting performances of the under-performing Vusi Sibanda, Stuart Matsikenyeri and Dion Ebrahim. Sibanda top-scored with 56 runs in the first match while Matsikenyeri notched 46 runs before giving away his wicket.
Besides impressive opener Brendan Taylor, the other star of the day in the second Pakistan match was Ebrahim, who emerged out of his shell after a long time using his feet well to the spin bowlers on his way to a confidence-boosting 71 runs.