By Srian Obeyesekere
Luke Jongwe smashed his way to the summit of Player of the Match heroism in a fascinating over the top show of two ixes off Angelo Mathews as Zimbabwe performed the incredible of scoring 20 runs off the last over winning the second T20 against Sri Lanka with a ball to spare to square the series 1-all in a drama filled day of night cricket yesterday at the R. Premadasa International Stadium when the hosts Charith Asalanka and Mathews himself had held sway in a run orgy world record118-run fifth-wicket partnership bathed in sixes.
Jongwe’s last over hurrah saw him dispatch an overstepping Mathews for 6 and the next free hit for 6 -12 in the bag off 2, and a third 6 – 18 off 3. Sri Lanka then lost the initiative of turning it around when Maheesh Theekshana dropped a top edge from Jongwe once again exposing the Lankans poor fielding. Madande applied the finish with clearing the stands off the fifth. The Jongwe-Madande fireworks was to ultimately dent that world record breaking run orgy when Asalanka 69 off 39 (5×4, 3×6), and Mathews 66 off 51 (6×4, 2×6) fronted Sri Lanka out in a similar play off as in the previous game out of the peril of another top order 4 for 28 crash after Muzarabani had threatened a hat-trick removing Pathum Nissanka for 1 and Kusal Janith Perera for a duck, and Jongwe had done his part with the ball sending back the Lankan skipper Kusal Mendis for 4 with Masakadza nailing Sadeera Samarawickrama for 16, was bitter to swallow stuff to the Lankan camp. Indeed, in the furlong feeling of Sri Lanka’s two spademen rendered into mere spectator like onlookers unable to stop Zimbabwe’s relentless march to victory which of course, by and large was fashioned by their ODI captain the 34-year old veteran Craig Ervine who strutted out a what was a great valour 70 off 54 filled with 6 boundaries and 2 over the top in a top order opener’s role that sped his side from 22 for 1 to 131 for 5 in 16.5 overs in fashioning that victory. Ervine’s second-wicket 74-run pairing together with Brian Bennett 25 off 20 (3×4) was center piece to it before Jongwe came into that final winning act in riding Zimbabwe from 143 for 6 after 17.4 overs to squaring it up in an unfinished 35-run seventh wicket blaze off 14 balls in the company of Clive Madande on 15 off 5 with 2 boundaries.
In that defeat, the Lankans were undone by Zimbabwe overcoming the Wanindu Hasaranga googlie threat that sent them crashing to the ODI series defeat as the Lankan skipper was restricted to just the one wicket and going for quite some runs – 41 in his 4 overs.
Overly, if it was over the moon ecstasy for the Zimbabweans keeping alive their hopes in going into the decisive third and final contest, to the Lankan camp the repeat show top order failure left food for thought going back to the drawing table to fixing their nerve center batting that has been a negating let down.
Sri Lanka 173/6 (20 Overs)
(Charith Asalanka 69, Angelo Mathews 66, Sadeera Samarawickrama 16, Luke Jongwe 2/32, Blessing Muzarabani 2/36, Wellington Masakadza 1/25, Richard Ngarava 1/30)
Zimbabwe 178/5 (19.5 Overs)
(Craig Ervine 70, Luke Jongwe n.o. 25, Clive Madande n.o. 15, Ryan Burl 13, Tinasha Kamunhukamwe 12,
Maheesh Theekshana 2/25, Dushmantha Chameera 2/30, Dilshan Madushana 1/24, Wanindu Hasaranga 1/41)