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January 9, 2024
Janith Liyanage crowns career with Player of the Match 95 as Sri Lanka down Zimbabwe by 2 wickets

Sri Lanka Cricket

By Srian Obeyesekere

Newcomer Janith Liyanage crowned his career in only his second appearance in hitting Sri Lanka out of trouble to a 2-wicket victory firing a Player of the Match 95 off 127 balls showcased by 6 boundaries and 2 over the top in foiling Zimbabwe and its tearaway lively pace bowler Ngarava who had put his side on top with a 5-wicket burst when the hosts were struggling on 112 for 6 wickets after 30.5 overs in the second ODI in yesterday’s rain affected second day/night ODI at the R. Premadasa International Stadium to go 1-up in the 3-match series with one more to go, the opener having being washed out by rain.

Indeed, the 24-year-old left-hand all-rounder rose to the occasion against all the odds having come in with Sri Lanka reeling on 16 for 2 after Avishka Fernando had been yanked out for a fifth-ball 4 and Sadeera Samarawickrama as well for 4 off 3 by the left-arm Ngarava in blossoming meteorically to delivering when it seemed Sri Lanka had lost their way. That he batted himself to progressively getting into the rhythm of taking on Ngarava and the rest of the Zimbabwe attack was wonderous stuff as he watched his skipper Kusal Mendis fall for for 17 to Ngarava holing out to Burl as disaster struck with Sri Lanka slipping to 51 for 3 and 53 for 4 when Monday’s century hero Charith Asalanka became Ngarava’s fourth victim for a duck edging to the wicket-keeper Gumble.

That Sri Lanka’s revival was forged by the new brigade of Liyanage, who was joined by left-hander Sahan Arachchige 21 off 39 with 2 boundaries in adding 37 for the fifth-wicket off 63 balls was certainly pay off stuff to looking to the future anew as Liyanage went on to bring up a classic back to the wall half century off 56 balls in sparingly reaching the boundary on four occasions in that build-up to taking on the Zimbabwe attack to the ultimate victory post.

What stood out the former Peterite and Ragama CC batter in getting into top flight in taking control of the situation in a now or never effort when the going got tough was after former captain Dasun Shanaka was sixth out for 7 off 13 caught behind off Raza with a further 97 needed for victory finding an able ally in Maheesh Theekshana who scored a fighting 18 off 31 sounding a boundary in what proved to be the most decisive turning point partnership of 56 for the seventh wicket off 64 balls.

The game went down to the wire after Liyanage was eighth out for 95 with the score 172 off the third delivery of the 43rd over off Muzarabani with 37 more needed for victory, Zimbabwe was still in the winning equation when the ninth-wicket pair of Dushmantha Chameera 18 off 31 (1×4) and Jeffrey Vandersay 19 off 18 (2×4) lent that final flourish off 21 balls that took the game to the realms of a thriller gallantly won by the new look Lankan outfit.

Zimbabwe’s total of 208 was built around a compact captain’s innings of 82 off 102 spanning 9 boundaries and a six by Craig Ervine as Sri Lanka’s Maheesh Theekshana came tops with a haul of 4 wickets for 31 runs.

CHIEF SCORES:

Zimbabwe 208 (44.4 Overs)

(Craig Ervine 82, Ryan Burl 31, Joylord Gumble 30, Milton Sumba 26, Clive Madande 14, Maheesh Theekshana 4/31, Dushmantha Chameera 2/44, Jeffrey Vandersay 2/47, Dilshan Madushanka 1/24)

Sri Lanka 211/8 (49 Overs)

(Janith Liyanage 95, Sahan Arachchige 21, Jeffrey Vandersay n.o. 19, Maheesh Theekshana 18, Dushmantha Chameera n.o. 18, Kusal Mendis 17, Richard Ngarava 5/32, Sikandar Raza 2/32, Blessing Muzarabani 1/41)

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