After their stunning 3-2 ODI series win against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe will now face their hosts in a one-off Test match, starting on Friday at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
That totally unexpected success, just a third ever bilateral ODI series victory away from home against a full ICC member, and the first since they beat Bangladesh in 2001, will give hope to the tourists, who will be seeking a first Test match victory since 2013.
Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe have played each other in 17 previous Test matches, with Sri Lanka winning 12 of these fixtures, with the other five ending in draws. The last time that Zimbabwe avoided defeat against Friday’s hosts, was in Harare way back in December 1999. Since when, they have met on seven occasions, three times in Sri Lanka, and four times in Zimbabwe.
All seven of those meetings have ended in heavy defeats for the African nation. During that period, they have been beaten in Sri Lanka by an innings twice, and by 315 runs on the other occasion.
They fared no better on home soil, losing twice by an innings, and twice by 200+ runs. All seven Test matches between the sides that have been played in Sri Lanka have ended in home wins.
Sri Lanka’s two most recent Test series have produced disappointing performance. While a 0-3 whitewash in South Africa might not have been a complete surprise, the margins of defeat in all three fixtures were heavy. Most recently, they were only able to share a two match homes series against Bangladesh 1-1.
The 3-0 thrashing of the touring Australians just a year ago, seems a very distant memory, and a seventh place in the ICC’s Test match rankings is probably just about where Sri Lanka deserve to be on current form.