Zimbabwe recorded a historic and shocking 6-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI match in the five-match series in Galle on Friday.
Solomon Mire smashed a belligerent maiden century as the visitors registered the highest-ever successful run chase in ODI cricket on Sri Lankan soil, chasing Sri Lanka’s score of 316/5 runs with more than 2 overs to spare in the first ever one-day international game in Galle after 17 years.
Mire and Sean Williams set the foundation with Zimbabwe’s highest third-wicket partnership of 161 against Sri Lanka while Malcolm Waller and Sikandar Raza finished off the job adding an unbroken 102* run stand for the 5th wicket.
Earlier, after winning the toss and electing to bat first, Niroshan Dickwella failed to capitalize when he threw away his wicket, slashing straight to covers off Tendai Chatara in the fifth over as the first Sri Lankan wicket fell with the score on 16.
Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis consolidated and laid a perfect platform for Sri Lanka adding 117 runs for the 2nd wicket just like they did against India during the Champions Trophy.
Zimbabweans introduced spin after 7 overs but they bowled at least one loose delivery for the two batsmen to pounce on. One drop batsman Mendis was a treat to watch as he pierced the field delicately both sides of the ground.
His ability to rotate the strike eased off any pressure for the hosts as the 22-year old batting superstar got to 1000 ODI runs, second joint-fastest Sri Lankan with a delightful four. Gunathilaka pulled the short balls confidently and drove gloriously to reach his fifth half-century in 69 balls.
He was successful in sweeping Williams to the boundary but fell in the next ball when he reverse-swept and holed out to cover point for 60. Mendis got to his 11th ODI half-century with a boundary and continued to pummel the Zimbabwe bowlers before he missed out on a well-deserved century by giving a simple caught & bowl chance to captain Graeme Cremer.
Vice-Captain Upul Tharanga played a sensible knock at number 4 to anchor the second half of the innings. He was joined by captain Angelo Mathews as they constructed a 74-run partnership for the 4th wicket in just 62 deliveries. Mathews was the aggressor scoring 43 off 30 balls with 6 fours and a six before being castled by Solomon Mire.
Asela Gunarathne made 28 as Sri Lanka went past the 300-run mark which was evident from the beginning of the first ODI in Galle since 2000. Tharanga went past 6000 ODI runs during his unbeaten 73-balll 79 as the hosts collected 152 runs in the final 20 overs against a bowling attack which lacked potency to claim regular breakthroughs.
Hamilton Masakadza, Zimbabwe’s most experienced batsman fell attempting a pull shot off Lasith Malinga but was only able to glove it behind down the leg-side for 5. Left-handed Craig Ervine struggled against the spin of Akila Dananjaya and eventually miscued a slog-sweep and top-edged to deep square leg.
Sri Lanka’s fielding woes continued to hurt then as Mire was dropped on 13 by Dickwella down the leg side and later on grasped by Lasith Malinga on 94 at short fine-leg. Williams was put down on 13 by Danushka Gunathilaka at point in the first ball of the 16th over which ultimately came to haunt the home team.
Sean Williams and Solomon Mire used the regulation sweep and reverse sweep to perfect effect against the ill-disciplined Lankan bowlers who strayed on both sides of the wicket. Left-arm spinner Amila Aponso who came into the playing XI after being drafted into the squad yesterday bowled a tad too quick on a surface which had plenty to offer for the spinners.
Mire reached his maiden ODI century with a thumping boundary, one of his fourteen boundaries but soon chipped back straight to Gunarathne. The right-arm medium bowler who varies the pace excellently picked up his 2nd wicket when Williams was castled in the very next over.
Raza and Waller put the final nail in the coffin scoring comfortably by bisecting the gaps in the field easily scoring 67 and 40 respectively in one of the darkest days in Sri Lankan cricket.
|Sri Lanka - Batting||Toss: Sri Lanka|
|Total||Extras (9)||316/5 (50 overs)|
|Niroshan Dickwella||c Burl b Chatara||10 (13)|
|Danushka Gunathilaka||c Ervine b Williams||60 (77)|
|Kusal Mendis||c & b Cremer||86 (80)|
|Upul Tharanga||Not Out||79 (73)|
|Angelo Mathews||b Mire||43 (30)|
|Asela Gunarathne||c Waller b Chatara||28 (26)|
|Lahiru Madushanka||Not Out||1 (1)|
|Zimbabwe - Bowling||O||M||R||W|
|Zimbabwe - Batting||Toss: Sri Lanka|
|Total||Extras (15)||322/4 (47.4 overs)|
|Hamilton Masakadza||c Dickwella b Malinga||5 (14)|
|Solomon Mire||c & b Gunarathne||112 (96)|
|Craig Ervine||c Tharanga b Dananjaya||18 (23)|
|Sean Williams||b Gunarathne||65 (69)|
|Sikandar Raza||Not Out||67 (56)|
|Malcolm Waller||Not out||40 (29)|
|Sri Lanka - Bowling||O||M||R||W|