Thisara stars as Sri Lanka defeat Zimbabwe to stay alive

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Sri Lankan cricketer Thisara Perera celebrates after the dismissal of Zimbabwe cricketer Solomon Mire during the fourth One Day International (ODI) cricket match in the Tri-Nations Series between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on January 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / -

Thisara Perera produced an impressive all-round performance as Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe by 5 wickets in their Bangladesh ODI Tri-Nation match at Sher-E-Bangla-Stadium, Mirpur on Sunday.

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Perera grabbed 4 for 33 to restrict Zimbabwe to 198 and later scored a crucial, unbeaten 35 to keep Sri Lanka alive in the tournament as they recorded their first win in the tournament.

Earlier, on a two-paced surface, Zimbabwe opted to bat. Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire constructed a stand of 44 for the opening wicket before Thisara Perera dismissed the former who miscued a pull shot and holed out Upul Tharanga at short mid-wicket.

Tharanga then grabbed Craig Ervine at first slip when the left-handed was induced to an outside edge. Perera continued to take wickets when he removed Mire with a well-directed short ball, which was gloved straight to wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella.

Sikandar Raza, who has been in great form swept Lakshan Sandakan but a brilliant take by Kusal Mendis who jumped, full stretched to pouch an excellent catch.

At 73 for 4, Zimbabwe needed a good partnership and Brendon Taylor and Malcolm Waller charted a stand of 66 for the 5th wicket.

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Sandakan eventually broke the threatening stand by dismissing Waller who nicked behind. PJ Moor was run-out without facing a delivery as Zimbabwe’s misery continued

Taylor, found an able partner in Graeme Cremer but Perera returned to the attack and got the prized wicket of Taylor to leave the African nation in trouble at 171 for 7.

Fast-bowler Nuwan Pradeep, cleaned up the tail and ended up with 3 for 28 as Sri Lanka produced a clinical bowling performance.

Chasing 199 runs to notch up their maiden win in the new year, Upul Tharanga and Kusal Perera started off cautiously as Zimbabwe new-ball seamers cramped the former for room by coming from around the wickets.

After a 33-run stand, Tharanga chopped one onto the stumps off Tendai Chatara. Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis laid a solid foundation for the islanders adding 70 runs. Perera played a sensible innings of 49 while battling a side strain but edged behind off Blessing Muzarabani.

The right-arm seamer Muzarabani started off a mini-collapse – castling Mendis in the 24th overs, who shuffled across only to miss the ball, uproot his leg-stump and in the next over, edged out Niroshan Dickwella.

Stand-in skipper Dinesh Chandimal needed to build a solid partnership with the lower order batsman. Asela Gunaratne aided the captain in their 28-run stand until a stunning take by reserve wicket-keeper Ryan Murray off Kyle Jarvis restricted Sri Lanka to 145/5.

Thisara Perera walked in at an important juncture and scored an invaluable 26-ball 39 which consist of 1 four and 3 sixes including the final blow to the stands. Perera and Chandimal added 57 off 61 deliveries on a pitch which was not easy for batting.

Thisara Perera has been the best performer for Sri Lanka with both bat and ball this tournament, scoring 132 runs in 3 innings with a strike rate of 170+ and capturing 9 wickets at 15.11.

“First of all, I am proud of my performance. As an allrounder, I am very happy today. All the bowlers, including me, did well. This is my natural game, otherwise I can’t survive in the international game” Thisara Perera who won the man-of-the-match award said.

Zimbabwe will next take on Bangladesh on Tuesday while Sri Lanka will play the hosts on Thursday, 25th January.

Teams               Mat          Won      Lost       Tied       NR          Pts         NRR      

Bangladesh         2             2             0             0             0             9             +2.985

Zimbabwe           3             1             2             0             0             4             -0.892

Sri Lanka              3             1             2             0             0             4             -0.989