Zimbabwe claimed a crucial 12-run win over Sri Lanka in a humdinger in the second game of the ODI Tri-Series played at Sher-E-Bangla Stadium, Mirpur on Wednesday.
After being sent into bat, half-centuries from Hamilton Masakadza and Sikandar Raza steered Zimbabwe to 290 for 6. Sri Lanka, in reply, were bowled out for 278 after Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera made exciting knocks of 80 and 64 respectively.
Zimbabwe opening pair, Masakadza and Solomon Mire, went on a boundary-hitting spree early on as the first Powerplay overs cost Sri Lanka 64 runs.
Mire was the first to be dismissed when he mistimed a pull off Thisara Perera only to be caught at square leg. One-drop batsman Craig Ervine was dropped by Kusal Mendis at second slip but soon edged to first slip in the 17th over off Suranga Lakmal, as Sri Lanka found an opening into the Zimbabwe batting line-up.
Masakadza made 10 fours during his 83-ball 73 before becoming part-timer Asela Gunarathne’s first wicket. A few overs later, Brendon Taylor was undone by a Perera delivery that came back in sharply in the 33rd over.
Sikandar Raza and Malcolm Waller brought up Zimbabwe’s 200 in the 38th over before the latter was dismissed by Gunaratne when he hit a full-toss straight to deep square leg. Raza then found an able partner in PJ Moor as they struck boundaries at will to score 48 runs off the last 4 overs.
Asela Gunaratne claimed 3 wickets for 37 for Sri Lanka while Thisara Perera returned bowling figures of 2 for 43 off his 10 overs.
Chasing a daunting target, Sri Lanka’s left-handed opening duo, Upul Tharanga and Kusal Perera got off to a flying start, especially the latter who cashed in at anything loose.
Experienced Tharanga was sent back by Kyle Jarvis in the sixth over when the score was 46. Young Kusal Mendis returning to the side after missing out the last series, mistimed a hook shot straight to mid-on without troubling the scores.
Perera was then joined by skipper Angelo Mathews as they added a valuable 85-run stand to lay a perfect foundation for the islanders. Off-spinner Sikandar Raza could not do anything wrong as he dismissed the dangerous Kusal Perera when he top-edged a sweep to short fine-leg.
Sri Lanka kept on losing wickets as Mathews holed out to Raza at mid-wicket who took a stunning catch to dent the Lankans. Dinesh Chandimal, who returned to the Sri Lankan side in the expense of Niroshan Dickwella made a 34-ball 33 while Gunaratne was stumped off Cremer for 4.
Thisara Perera kept Sri Lanka in the hunt with a blazing knock of 64 off 37 balls, hammering 5 fours and 3 sixes but could not take his team over the winning line when he slapped a full toss off Tendai Chatara straight to deep mid-wicket’s throat.
Wanindu Hasaranga and Akila Dananjaya provided crucial support for Thisara but fell in search of quick runs. The last pair, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera came together needing only 16 runs in 20 balls but the Zimbabweans held their nerve to bundle out Sri Lanka with 11 balls to spare.
“We were scrappy from the outset and gave too many runs in the first ten overs. They capitalised with wickets in hand in the last ten overs. We had wickets in hand, and the run-rate was good. But we lost wickets regularly and that set us back. Thisara was fantastic with bat and ball. Kusal was fantastic too but the others failed to support them to finish it off.” Sri Lanka skipper Mathews said.
Man of the Match – Sikandar Raza
Sri Lanka will next take on the hosts, Bangladesh on Friday (19th January) at the same venue.