Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka renew their rivalry in the oldest format of cricket as they clash swords in a two-match Test series, starting Saturday. The matches get underway at the Harare Sports Club.
They play a Test series for the first time after 2004, when Marvan Atapattu was the Sri Lankan captain. Superstar Kumar Sangakkara had made 270 in that series, his second double hundred.
Fast forward to 2016 and we have the two-match series. The occasion is grand for Zimbabwe cricket as they play their 100th Test match on their home turf, while for the Lankan Lions, the series is also special as it marks the debut of the veteran Rangana Herath as a Test skipper, at the age of 38.
Injury to regular skipper Angelo Mathews was the reason behind this move by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).
For the home team, big names are finally making way for the youngsters, as the 10th-ranked Test team in the world gives an opportunity to the future Zimbabwean stars to shine in their centennial Test match. From uncapped batsman Tarisai Musakanda to Brian Chari and Peter Moor, the occasion gives a massive chance to these young guns to make their mark. But of course, there is the experienced Craig Ervine and the veteran Heath Streak, who is the coach of the Zimbabwe cricket team.
The away side, nevertheless, look the strong side by all means, even though Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal remain injured. They come into the Test series after thrashing Australia 3-0 in their previous Test series earlier this year.
Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva and Kusal Perera are still there in the Sri Lanka squad, making the team look formidable.
"We're still the underdogs, but with them having a few debutants and missing Angelo Mathews — who gives them a lot of balance and is a serious player — they will be weaker by their standards," said Zimbabwe head coach Streak ahead of the first Test match.
1st Test: Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka gets under way from 1:30 pm IST (8 am GMT) on October 29.
Where to watch live
India: TV: Ten 2. Live streaming: tensports.com.