Sri Lanka eye redemption against Zimbabwe

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Sri Lanka are looking to pick themselves up as the series against Zimbabwe begins this week in Galle after a string of poor performances prompted their coach to quit.

Angelo Mathews leads the Sri Lankans who take on Zimbabwe in the first of five one-day internationals on Friday as they look to get over their first-round exit in the Champions Trophy.

South African Graham Ford quit as coach last week with assistant Nic Pothas taking over in an interim capacity for the clashes against Zimbabwe, whose tour will end with a single Test match next month in Colombo.

Ford’s exit just 15 months into his four-year contract adds to Sri Lanka’s problems on and off the field, which are hampering preparations for the 2019 World Cup.

“It is beyond our control. What happens outside the cricket field, we don’t think a lot about it,” Mathews said on Tuesday.

“Fordy has been fantastic, one of the very best in the business. Sorry to see him go. But, we have to move on and look ahead to this series.”

Veteran paceman Lasith Malinga was this week handed a one-year suspended ban after being found guilty of insulting a minister but has been retained in the 13-man ODI squad.

The speedster has been docked 50 percent of his match fee from Friday’s opening game in Galle and is under six-month probation after comparing the country’s sports minister to a “monkey”.

The minister — Dayasiri Jayasekera — had accused Sri Lankan players of being too fat after the team failed to reach the Champions Trophy semi-finals in England.

Malinga, who returned from injury to the 50-over side in England, struggled and took only three wickets in three matches.

The islanders have just won five of their 20 one-day games since August 2016 with two coming against hosts Zimbabwe during a tri-nation series triumph in November.

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