Zimbabwe Surprise Sri Lanka in 5th ODI
Zimbabwe Surprise Sri Lanka in 5th ODI, CricketHighlights
It was a painful loss for Sri Lanka, but at the same time it was an exuberating win for Zimbabwe. And why not, after all this was their first series win in Sri Lanka and also their first away series win in 8 years. The visitors played to the best of their potentials and came out victorious in the last ODI by 3 wickets to claim a 3-2 series win over Sri Lanka in their own backyard.
To start with, it was a brilliant bowling and fielding performance from Zimbabwe as they restricted the Sri Lankan batsmen to a below-par total. They picked up 3 big wickets, that of Dickwella, Mendis and Tharanga in the first powerplay and pushed Sri Lanka on the back foot. Sikandar Raza, who opened the bowling alongside Tendai Chatara, picked up two out of those three wickets. The off-spinner was simply brilliant as he made good use of the conditions and bowled according to a specific plan. In his first spell of 6 overs, he conceded just 11 runs and got rid of two fine batsmen, in Mendis and Tharanga.
The change-in bowlers maintained the pressure that was created by Chatara and Raza, as they too bowled wicket-to-wicket and didn’t allow the Sri Lankan batsmen to get off the hook. The positive thing from Sri Lanka’s point of view was that Matthews and Gunathilaka, slowly and steadily, were forming a partnership and trying to rescue their team out of the jail.
Gunathilaka, especially, looked a bit more assured and continued his fine form in the series as he scored another valiant half-century. However, the dismissal of the left-hander marked Sri Lanka’s downfall as they lost two more wickets in the next three overs and were now reeling at 126/7 at the end of 35 overs.
The only hope left for Sri Lanka was Asela Gunaratne (59), who played street-smart cricket and batted right till the end to help his team post a somewhat respectable total on the board. Along with Dushmanth Chameera, Gunaratne added 50 valuable runs for the ninth-wicket partnership and helped his team finish with 203 runs.
Out of the 8 wickets that fell, seven were taken by the Zimbabwean spinners, which suggest that the Sri Lankan batsmen were strangled in the spin-web and were unable to get out of it right throughout their innings.
The Zimbabwean openers came out all guns blazing and it was Solomon Mire, who began the assault, as he smashed Nuwan Kulasekara for three boundaries and a massive six in one over. Soon, Hamilton Masakadza too joined the party and played some gorgeous shots to get himself going. The two batsmen added 92 runs in just 14 overs and looked all set to get to their respective half-centuries. However, a certain Gunaratne spoiled their party as he got rid of the dangerous looking Mire and broke the opening partnership. In the very same over, Masakadza reached his fifty and also completed 5000 runs in ODI cricket.
Even after the loss of Mire’s wicket, the Zimbabwean batsmen batted positively and scored the runs at a decent pace. In 23 overs, they have scored 130 and now required to get only 74 runs with 9 wickets still in hand. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a straightforward way for them going forward. Just like Sri Lanka lost wickets in a cluster, the same thing happened with Zimbabwe.
It was the second spell from Akila Dananjaya, where he picked up 3 wickets in successive overs and brought Sri Lanka right back into the match. A couple of overs later, Malinga got Waller caught and bowled and gave the visitors another blow. From 137/1, they slipped to 172/6 and to make the matters even worse, Dananjaya picked up one more wicket in his final over.
The off-spinner’s nerve racking spell really made the match interesting as Zimbabwe still needed 29 runs and they were left with only 3 wickets. This was the time when Sikandar Raza came to their rescue and just like his amazing performance with the ball, he put up a brilliant show with the bat. In a pressure cooker kind of a situation, Raza scored 27 valuable runs and with the help of his skipper (Cremer), guided his team to a famous win. He deservingly won the Man of the Match award for his all-round show.