Cricket in August 2014: Schedules and Previews for Every International Series

Tim Collins@@TimDCollinsFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2014

Cricket in August 2014: Schedules and Previews for Every International Series

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    Cricket's international calendar is bursting with fixtures across the globe in August, with three Tests series and six limited-overs contests all set to play out over the coming four weeks. 

    Headlining the action, of course, is England's ongoing Test series with India, which is currently locked at 1-1 and looks poised for a fascinating finish in the fourth and fifth Tests at Old Trafford and the Oval.

    Elsewhere, South Africa are preparing for a visit of Zimbabwe, while Sri Lanka will play host to Pakistan and the West Indies will welcome Bangladesh.

    In fact, with Australia joining South Africa for a triangular one-day international series in Zimbabwe, only New Zealand won't feature in August among the world's Test-playing nations.

    So with a packed month ahead, we've provided a preview for each international series across the following slides. 

Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan Test Series

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    Aug. 6-10 Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan 1st TestGalle
    Aug. 14-18Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan 2nd TestColombo


    In a rather rare occurrence, Sri Lanka and Pakistan meet this month in what will be their second Test series battle in the current calendar year. 

    When the nations met in January in the UAE, Angelo Mathews' men wasted a brilliant opportunity to capture the series, squandering a first-innings lead in the third Test in Sharjah to allow the hosts to scrape a 1-1 series draw with an incredible fourth-innings chase. 

    Since then, Sri Lanka have enjoyed a historic Test series victory on English soil as well as a narrow defeat at home in the recent encounter with South Africa. 

    Pakistan, however, haven't pulled on the whites since that contest with the Sri Lankans at the beginning of the year. 

    Out of match practice and set to embark on a tour of a country they haven't been triumphant in since 2006, Pakistan should find it extremely difficult to topple the hosts led by Mathews, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Rangana Herath.

England vs. India Test Series

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    Aug. 7-11England vs. India 4th TestManchester
    Aug. 15-19England vs. India 5th TestThe Oval


    England's Test series against India continues in August as the contest heads to Old Trafford in Manchester locked at 1-1. 

    Following the visitors' emphatic victory at Lord's, it briefly appeared that Alastair Cook's side were headed for a truly disastrous summer after already succumbing to Sri Lanka prior to India's arrival.

    However, the hosts levelled the series with a convincing triumph in the third Test at the Ageas Bowl as the team's senior figures in Cook, Ian Bell, James Anderson and Stuart Broad lifted England out of their year-long malaise. 

    With Anderson escaping suspension for his involvement in the incident with Ravindra Jadeja at Trent Bridge, the home side now seem well placed to grab the initiative in the series, particularly considering the struggles being endured by India's key batsmen and the lack of incision inherent in MS Dhoni's bowling attack. 

    Unless Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli find a way to lead the tourists to commanding totals in each of the last two Tests, it's difficult to see how England can be denied a much-awaited series win. 

Zimbabwe vs. South Africa Test

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    Aug. 9-13Zimbabwe vs. South Africa TestHarare


    Zimbabwe host South Africa for a one-off Test this month as the teams prepare to face each other in the game's longest format for the first time in nearly a decade.

    Frankly, it is good news that this series contains only one Test because it should prove to be appallingly one-sided.

    South Africa, coming off a 1-0 victory from their tour of Sri Lanka, will head to Harare with an imposing lineup to face a nation they have defeated by an innings four times in their previous seven encounters. 

    Led superbly by new captain Hashim Amla and still possessing one of the world's finest attacks, the Proteas should blow away a home side who are enduring a tumultuous period and haven't played a Test since last September. 

Zimbabwe vs. South Africa ODI Series

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    Aug. 17Zimbabwe vs. South Africa 1st ODI Bulawayo
    Aug. 19Zimbabwe vs. South Africa 2nd ODIBulawayo
    Aug. 21Zimbabwe vs. South Africa 3rd ODIBulawayo


    Following the one and only Test, Zimbabwe and South Africa will embark on a three-match one-day international series to be contested in Bulawayo. 

    While the Proteas aren't as dominant in the limited-overs arenas as they are on the Test stage, the series is unlikely to be any more competitive than the preceding five-day encounter.

    Indeed, Zimbabwe have won only six of their last 37 ODIs against the world's eight major nations, dating back to the beginning of 2010, and have won only one such game since October 2011. 

    That's highly unlikely to change against the South Africans who, led by AB de Villiers, are fresh from a 2-1 ODI series victory away to Sri Lanka.

West Indies vs. Bangladesh ODI Series

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    Aug. 20West Indies vs. Bangladesh 1st ODI St George's
    Aug. 22West Indies vs. Bangladesh 2nd ODISt George's
    Aug. 25West Indies vs. Bangladesh 3rd ODIBasseterre


    In what are increasingly regular meetings between the two countries, the West Indies will host Bangladesh for a limited-overs tour this month that commences with three one-day internationals. 

    Coming off an indifferent encounter with New Zealand that saw the Caribbean outfit lose the Test series before drawing the two-game Twenty20 contest, the West Indies will look for a confidence-restoring triumph over the infants of cricket's major stage. 

    That task should be made easier by the absence of Shakib Al Hasan, who has been handed a six-month suspension for what the Bangladesh Cricket Board has described as a "severe attitude problem," according to The Guardian

    Missing their best player in a series against an outfit rather fond of the limited-overs formats, Bangladesh will be hard-pressed to register a single victory, should the hosts field a full-strength side. 

Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan ODI Series

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    Aug. 23 Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan 1st ODI Hambantota
    Aug. 27Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan 2nd ODIColombo
    Aug. 30Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan 3rd ODIDambulla


    After the conclusion of the two-match Test series, Sri Lanka and Pakistan will face off in a three-game one-day international encounter. 

    In this year's Asia Cup, both teams proved they were the in-form ODI teams on the continent, contesting the final in Dhaka that was captured by Sri Lanka thanks to a superb Lahiru Thirimanne century. 

    Interestingly, however, the teams have largely shared the spoils from their clashes over the last two years, with Sri Lanka claiming seven victories to Pakistan's five since March 2012.

    Yet the bulk of those games have taken place on neutral ground.

    With the series set to be played in Sri Lanka, the hosts should be well placed to defeat Pakistan, particularly given the imposing limited-overs record Angelo Mathews' team has built in 2014. 

    Still possessing the batting core of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan, in addition to a world-class ODI bowling attack, Sri Lanka should claim a series victory over their erratic visitors. 

England vs. India ODI Series

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    Aug. 25England vs. India 1st ODI Bristol
    Aug. 27England vs. India 2nd ODICardiff
    Aug. 30England vs. India 3rd ODINottingham
    Sep. 2England vs. India 4th ODIBirmingham
    Sep. 5England vs. India 5th ODILeeds


    While it appears that England hold the upper hand of their ongoing Test series with India at present, it's the tourists who should be favoured to capture the subsequent one-day international campaign set to begin on August 25.

    Having claimed the ICC Champions Trophy title on English soil last summer, beating the hosts in the final in the process, MS Dhoni's outfit will be confident of maintaining their dominance over England in coloured clothing.

    Indeed, India have won nine of their last 11 ODI encounters with England, which includes a 5-0 drubbing of Alastair Cook's side on the subcontinent in 2011. 

    The major difference between the two sides is the explosive capacity of the respective batting lineups.

    While Cook's team is limited in modern, limited-overs blasters, India's batting squadron that contains Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Dhoni should possess too much firepower for the home side across five one-day internationals. 

Zimbabwe Triangular ODI Series

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    Aug. 251st Match Zimbabwe vs. AustraliaHarare
    Aug. 272nd Match Australia vs. South AfricaHarare
    Aug. 293rd Match Zimbabwe vs. South AfricaHarare
    Aug. 314th Match Zimbabwe vs. AustraliaHarare
    Sep. 25th Match Australia vs. South AfricaHarare
    Sep. 46th Match Zimbabwe vs. South AfricaHarare
    Sep. 6Final TBC Harare


    Rounding out the string of matches to be played in Zimbabwe in August is a seven-match triangular series to be contested between the home nation, South Africa and Australia. 

    Having not played a competitive match of any kind since April 1, Michael Clarke's side is unlikely to arrive at this three-team tournament in peak form, opening the door for South Africa to repair some of the damage that was done by Australia when they visited the rainbow nation in February and March. 

    Given that Zimbabwe stand little chance of seriously competing with two of the world's heavyweights, it can be safely assumed that South Africa and Australia will contest the final on September 6. 

    Fresh from a successful tour of Sri Lanka and a far superior run at the ICC World Twenty20, AB de Villiers' men should hold an advantage over an Australian side that will still be getting going from the nation's winter break. 

    Of course, Clarke's side is packed with both powerful hitters and incisive seamers, particularly Mitchell Johnson, but match practice counts for a lot in a brief series, given that little time is available to work oneself into form. 

    By that measure, it's South Africa who hold the edge.

West Indies vs. Bangladesh T20

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    Aug. 27West Indies vs. Bangladesh T20Basseterre


    Sitting in between the three one-day internationals and a two-match Test series in September is a lone Twenty20 clash between the West Indies and Bangladesh on August 27. 

    While doubts continually surround the Caribbean outfit's capacity in the game's longer formats, the West Indies' performances at this year's ICC World Twenty20 confirmed their spectacular abilities in cricket's most explosive arena. 

    Only edged out by eventual champions Sri Lanka, Darren Sammy's powerful side overwhelmed both Pakistan and Australia on the way to a semi-final, proving their suitability to the format.

    Thus, against a troubled Bangladesh side, the West Indies should cruise to a comfortable victory in the sole Twenty20 clash between the two teams.