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Zimbabwe overcame Sri Lanka’s resistance to script a historic 3 wicket at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Cricket Stadium, Hambantota. This win, their first in overseas conditions after a gap of eight years, is the first against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in any format overall.
Sikandar Raza brewed the winning process right from the start of the game,; firstly with the ball – claiming 3/21 and later with the bat – hitting a run a ball knock of 27 under high pressure.
After being put to bat first, the hosts struggled right from the word go and ended up producing an underwhelming performance. On a pitch that was flat and unhelpful for the bowlers, the hosts simply threw away the wickets for no reason and eventually managed just 203/8 in 50 overs.
Had Dushmantha Chameera (18 from 31 balls) not hung around with Asela Gunaratne (59 from 81 balls), Sri Lanka would have eventually ended up losing the match way before than they actually did. The pair added 50 runs for the 8th wicket and propelled the team total past 200 runs mark. This stand proved highly crucial later in the game as it provided Lankans the room to fight back and stay in contest.
To put things in the perspective, Zimbabwe were already cruising at 148/2 and looked all set to win the match before spinner Akila Dhanajaya (4/47) put them on a sticky road, pinning them down completely and choking the run rate. The extra runs came handy but were not enough to earn them a win.
The chase got off to a straightforward start as openers Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire thrashed the Lankan opening bowlers. The attacking approach chosen by the duo quickly saw the visitors were in the driver’s seat and the target of 204 seemed insufficient.
The pair added 92 runs in just 14.2 overs before the Mire departed. The first loss could not dent the chasing effort though as Tarisai Musakanda (37 from 49 balls) combined with Masakadza to take the chase forward in the same vein.
However, just when the visitors looked to be sailing home very easily, Akila Dananjaya spread some nervousness in the Zimbabwean camp. The complexion of the match quickly changed as the batting side lost 7 wickets for just 38, going down to 175/7 from 137/1.
Fortunately, Raza did not give up and ensured that the remaining runs were added to the scoreboard, ending the match with a six as the winning runs.
Sri Lanka 203/8 in 50 overs (Danushka Gunathulaka 52; Sikandar Raza 3/21)
Zimbabwe 204/7 in 38.1 overs (H Masakadza 73; A Dhananjay 4/47)