In as much as Zimbabwe does not boast of an attack similar to the Aussies’, the short ball still remains such an effective option regardless of pace, and it depends on how well its executed. The home pitches can be prepared to suit seam bowling and although Zimbabwe will also have to bat on the same track, it’s their best chance. It is difficult to see how Asian teams can be beaten on slow, spinning tracks which they are far more accustomed to. The composition of the Zimbabwe squad named by selectors last week suggests the hosts might go for the pace attack option.
In addition to new captain Elton Chigumbura and Chris Mpofu, veteran Andy Blignaut is now fit to bowl while Ed Rainsford earned a recall following his impressive domestic season with Midwest Rhinos. In recent times Zimbabwe have heavily relied on their spin attack.
However, selectors convener Alistair Campbell said the team would not change their approach in familiar home conditions.
“Bulawayo is a very good cricket wicket,” Campbell said. “We’ve seen big scores from there in recent matches. We will obviously get a flat wicket there. In Harare there will be more in it for the seamers; good bounce, not much turn.
“Well, they always talk about local conditions, preparing green wickets for the Flower-power (the combination of ex-Zimbabwe kingpin brothers Andy and Grant Flower) and stuff like that. But there is no Flower now. We have to back ourselves up in that (spin) department. It’s nice to be at home in front of your home supporters. But there will be nothing special to tell the groundsmen.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka yesterday also named a weakened side for the series after India announced theirs last week.
Tillakaratne Dilshan leads the side in the absence of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who have been rested. Also rested is veteran batsman Sanath Jayasuriya and fast bowler Lasith Malinga. Ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who was ruled out during the World Twenty20 due to a groin injury, is also missing.
India: Suresh Raina (capt), Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Pankaj Singh, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Naman Ojha.
Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Angelo Mathews , Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Chamara Kapugedera, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thilan Thushara, Ajantha Mendis, Jeevan Mendis, Dilhara Fernando, Chamara Silva, Thissira Perera.
By Prosper Tsvanhu