The first two matches had tense finishes. This one was a walkover. Zimbabwe had begun with promise, hitting 35 off their first three overs. But they crumbled rapidly to spin thereafter, losing four wickets to Wanindu Hasaranga, two to Maheesh Theekshana, and one to Dhananjaya de Silva, who was playing his first match of the series.

They lost their last nine wickets for 49 runs, and though this was a slow deck given to turn, Sri Lanka had no problems. They sped to the target in 10.5 overs, for the loss of only one wicket, thereby sealing the series 2-1. They had also won the ODIs 2-0.

Where Zimbabwe had shown some tenacity with the bat in their previous two matches, their middle and lower orders were especially meek in this match. In this 6 off 27 sequence, Tony Munyonga was first to go, mis-hitting a Hasaranga ball to the midwicket fielder who had just been installed, in the 10th over.

De Silva then had Sean Williams caught and bowled next over, before Hasaranga had the hero of the last match – Luke Jongwe – caught at deep square leg off a top-edged sweep.

In his next over, Hasaranga struck twice, off his last two balls, both googlies. Wellington Masakadza was hit in front of the stumps. Richard Ngarava was bowled. Theekshana completed the team hat-trick in the first ball of the next over by having Clive Madande caught sweeping.

Although Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani have been excellent with the new ball through the tour, Sri Lanka were always going to try and break Zimbabwe’s spirits early, given the small chase. The openers hit three fours inside Ngarava’s first two overs, and then they really opened their shoulders.

They hit one legside four each off Muzarabani’s second over – the fourth of the innings – before Mendis took Wellington Masakadza apart, and sent Ngarava for six off a fortuitous top edge off the sixth over. They were 50 for no loss after the first six.

Mendis would lose his wicket to a terrific delivery from Williams, going for 33 off 27, but Sri Lanka were all but home.

Although they batted only 14.1 overs, Zimbabwe had an excellent start. Sort of. Brian Bennett was the source of seven early boundaries – all fours, and almost all of them coming from drives of some description. This is partly because Sri Lanka’s fast bowlers pitched full, looking for swing. A nice off-cutter from Mathews ended that 12-ball innings though – Bennett’s eyes lighting up and looking for the big shot over the bowler’s head, but only managing to find mid-on.

It was rapidly downhill for Zimbabwe after that.

Source: ESPNCricinfo


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