SRI Lanka cricket team coach Mickey Arthur believes Zimbabwe has made tremendous progress under Indian coach Lalchand Rajput after being impressed with the manner the Chevrons pushed his side to the limit during the two-match Test series which ended on Friday.
The touring Sri Lanka side dug deep to fight for a draw in the second Test against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Friday to seal a 1-0 series win after securing a 10 wicket victory in the first Test played at the same venue a fortnight ago.
The vastly experienced Arthur, who has coached several teams such as Australia, Pakistan and his native South Africa, said Zimbabwe had made great strides on the field of play despite the country’s suspension by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“I think Zimbabwe have made great strides; they’re a very well organised cricket team at the moment,” Arthur told reporters after the conclusion of the second and final Test.
“They’ve certainly got a really good blueprint, they play a brand of cricket that works for them and I’ve seen so many times now a massive improvement. Make no mistake I thought we played really well in the first Test, we were put under pressure in the second Test and we had to fight hard to get a draw today, so congratulations to Zimbabwe because they’ve put us under a massive amount of pressure in this Test match,” the South African said.
Zimbabwe put on a solid show on their return to the longer version of the game after a 14-month absence dating back to their 1-1 series draw against Bangladesh in November, 2018.
The Chevrons hardly looked like a side short of competitive match fitness as they pushed their higher ranked opponents throughout the five days of both Test matches.
Zimbabwe lost the first match by 10 wickets in the final session on the fifth day in a match they could have drawn.
The Lalchand Rajput-coached side also looked well set to win the second Test after posting 406 runs in the first innings and bowling out Sri Lanka for 293 runs.
Zimbabwe set Sri Lanka a challenging 361 runs to win after declaring on 247 for seven in the second innings but their hopes were scuppered by rain delays and bad light on the penultimate day.
The match was declared a draw with 14 overs of the day to go as Sri Lanka finished on 204-3 in its second innings.
Zimbabwe coach Lalchand Rajput was pleased with the manner his side refused to be bullied by their more illustrious opponents and hopes the performances will act as a morale booster ahead of the upcoming tour of Bangladesh later this month.
Zimbabwe will take on Bangladesh in a one-off Test as well as three One Day Internationals (ODIs) and two T20Is from February 22 to March 11.
“We are going to Bangladesh next and from the last time we were there we know that they will prepare spinning wickets so I think it’s the ideal preparations. Now our boys are very confident we are going there in a positive frame of mind and we will try to do well there again like we did the last time there as well,” said Rajput.