Sri Lanka exploited a slowed down track to outfox Zimbabwe in the decisive final ODI winning by a massive 184 runs tonight after the visiting team was shot out for 70 in just 24.4 overs in reply to the host team’s 254 for 9 wickets at the Pallekelle International Stadium.
Winning the toss was the perfect scripting for the Lankans with skipper Dasun Shanaka opting to bat first with Pathum Nissanka blasting 55 off 66 balls and Kusal Mendis 36 off 51 balls. The first wicket partnership realised 80 runs off 17.2 overs with Nissanka smashing 5 boundaries in his innings that set the right tempo. Mendis played a more cautious role by his 51-ball knock containing 4 boundaries. Then Charith Asalanka, in the pivotal one drop slot, stepped in to to hammer a compelling 52 off 56 balls inclusive of 5 boundaries to add the sparkling flourish in that run-cascading to that winning frontier.
The Lankan innings was perfected by contributions down the line by the gutsy Chamika Karunaratne who reeled 30 off 32 balls (1×4) and Ramesh Mendis 26 off 21 (2×4).
Zimbabwe were soon in trouble losing 3 wickets in the power play as Dushmantha Chameera tore in to account for two of them including the prize wicket of the Zimbabwe skipper Craig Irvine and Regis Chakabva while a devastating 4-wicket up Jeffrey Vandersay got rid of Wellington Masakadza. In that 7.2 over bout of destruction, a hitherto ominous Zimbabweans had lost the plot and the match as they would ultimately the series 2-1 as the Lankan bowlers moved in for the kill. In that final assault, Vandersay reaped the astounding figures of 4 for 10 while the Chameera effect with the ball was as decisive in that 2 for 20 take with Ramesh Mendis bringing his all-round potential into play claiming 2 for 26.
In that day-night exploit, coming tops with the bat did hold out a significant new ray for the young 24-year old Charith Asalanka for whom his elevation to the vice captaincy was justly capped by the stroke-filled left-hander by the Player of the Match award.
Similarly, the day did culminate in a glint of gold for young find Pathum Nissanka as far as the plum of the Player of the Series award went by that rich stake.