Wanindu Hasaranga wrecked the Zimbabwe batting order with 7 for 19 in his first international in seven months, his googly causing devastation on a major scale, his slider and legbreak not far behind. Through the course of an innings that was twice shortened by rain, Zimbabwe could muster only 96, succumbing after just 22.5 overs, when 27 were on offer.

A target of 97 was unlikely to test Sri Lanka, and Kusal Mendis ensured it didn’t, blasting 66 not out off 51 balls. Though Sri Lanka lost both openers, they ambled home with more than 10 overs to spare, closing out the series 2-0.

Having won the toss and batted first, Zimbabwe had in fact been traveling smoothly before the first rain interruption, their openers taking them to 40 off the first 7.4 overs. When play resumed, however, Hasaranga began his charge. Bowling the first full over after the break, he had Takudzwanashe Kaitano caught at short fine leg off a top-edged sweep – Hasaranga’s googly claiming its first victim. He took two wickets in his next over, both lbws. Joylord Gumbie missed the googly; Craig Ervine was struck in front by the fast legbreak. By the time the rain fell again, at 11.5 overs, Zimbabwe had slipped to 48 for 3.

This interruption caused the major reduction in overs. But Zimbabwe’s slide was not arrested, nor Hasaranga’s rampage tempered by a break of more than two hours. He got Milton Shumba lbw in his first over back, before Zimbabwe had added another run. Janith Liyanage then took his first international wicket, before Maheesh Theekshana somewhat fortuitously claimed the wicket of Sikandar Raza (whose attempted lap sweep came back on to the stumps off wicketkeeper Kusal Mendis’ equipment). Hasaranga resumed his wicket-taking with the bowled dismissal off Clive Madande, it was his fifth of the evening.

By this stage, Zimbabwe had plummeted to 67 for 7, having lost those seven wickets for 24 runs. Their tail would do little better. Thanks to a 14 from Luke Jongwe and an 11 from Wellington Masakadza, who had both come into this game after missing the previous matches in the series, they limped to their eventual target. Hasaranga claimed two more to rack up his best-ever ODI figures and the fifth best in history.

The chase began shakily, with Richard Ngarava getting Avishka Fernando to feather one behind – the third time Fernando has been out in this fashion this series. But once Mendis was at the crease, Sri Lanka began to speed toward the small target. He was severe square of the wicket, hitting Ngarava for a four and a six in the cover region in the third over, before lofting him for another four, and eventually reaping 16 off that over.

Mendis continued to cover drive, cut, and pull viciously, and by the time the eighth over was done, had raced to 39 off 26 balls, soon progressing to a 37-ball fifty. Debutant Shevon Daniel was caught chipping the left-arm spin of Masakadza to deep midwicket for 12, but by this time, Sri Lanka were only 22 runs away from victory. Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama sauntered to the finish.

Source: ESPNCricinfo


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