By Srian Obeyesekere
Sri Lanka ‘s old guard of Angelo Mathews 46 off 38 showcased by 5 boundaries and one over the top, and former captain Dasun Shanaka unbeaten on 26 off 18 with 4 boundaries came to the fore fronting a match winning 55 runs or the seventh wicket to bat the hosts to a nerve wracking last ball victory when it looked like Sri Lanka had been blown off reeling on 83 for 6 wickets with just three overs remaining chasing down 144 to go up 1-nil against by a relentless Zimbabwe whose captain Sikandar Raza had put his side on top with a flamboyant 62 off 42 and a 3=wicket take in yesterday’s opening night T20 international at the R. Premadasa International Stadium.
Sri Lanka’s victory was more the dramatic that the last 61 runs came off only 18 balls.
Mathews who took strike with the score on 51 for 4 when Sadeera Samarawickrama was clean bowled by Raza for 9, rose to the occasion in typical old guard valour to hold the innings on a thread with former captain Dasun Shanaka signaling that old wine still ran strong as he braved a long haunting form rust to doing the job for Sri Lanka and reviving his international career once again. The Mathews-Shanaka fronting followed some harsh blows delivered by Zimbabwe which culminated in the Zimbabwe skipper going on to knocking back the stumps of his opposite number Wanindu Hasaranga for a second ball duck as the Lankan exited in his maiden appearance carrying the big mantle vested on him.
The final flourish was provided by Sri Lanka’s fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera who hit a boundary and two runs off the penultimate and last ball to lending a gripping end to the contest.
Mathews’ great effort earned him Player of the Match reward.
Zimbabwe 143/5 (20 Overs)
(Sikandar Raza 62, Kamunhukamwe 26, Sean Williams 14, L. Jongwe n.o. 13, Brian Bennett n.o. 10, M. Theekshana 2/16, Wanindu Hasaranga 2/19, Dushmantha Chameera 1/38)
Sri Lanka 144/7 (20 Overs)
(Angelo Mathews 46, Dasun Shanaka n.o. 26, Kusal Mendis 17, Kusal Janith Perera 17, Charith Asalanka 16, Sikandar Raza 3/13, Blessing Muzarabani 2/33, Wellington Masakadza 1/21, Richard Ngarava 1/34)