By Srian Obeyesekere
Sri Lanka demolished Zimbabwe by nine wickets bundling out the visitors for 82 in only 14.1 overs with skipper Wanindu Hasaranga leading from the front with a match haul of 4 wickets for 15 runs to taking the 3-match T20 series 2-1 to the roars of a packed home crowd yesterday with openers Pathum Nissanka unbeaten on 39 off 23 with 5 boundaries and a six and Kusal Mendis 33 off 27 with 4 boundaries and a six setting agog the finish by a whirlwind 64 partnership off 7.4 overs at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium. Dhananjaya de Silva, who came in for the injured Charith Asalanka, joined Nissanka with a run a ball 15 inclusive of 2 boundaries in that final hurrah of 88 for 1 off 10.5 overs having added to his feather the wicket of Sean Williams in a 1 for 1 take.
The decisive decider turned out to be a mismatch with Zimbabwe failing to produce the type of cricket that fetched them victory in the second game with the visitors batting coming apart in a crashing that was sparked by the first ball dismissal of their most trusted batsman Craig Ervine who was sent back by Angelo Mathews off the second ball of the innings miscuing to Sadeera Samarawickrama at point as the Lankans moved in for the kill with Mathews going on to have Brian Bennett snapped up by Hasaranga at mid-on for 29 as Zimbabwe lost their second wicket for 35 in 3 overs.
It was sweet revenge for the veteran former Lankan captain Mathews whose last over 20 in the previous game dashed the Lankans hopes of a clean sweep as he went on to pick up the Player of the Series award also for scores of 26 and 46 in the first two on a day skipper Wanindu Hasaranga came into his own from an off colour previous outing in a Player of the Match demolishing act with Maheesh Theekshana claiming two wickets including last man Madande caught by Dasun Shanaka for 5. Hasaranga’s last two wickets were off successive deliveries accounting for Sri Lanka’s trouble shooter in the lost game Luke Jongwe, caught by Dilshan Madushanka for 2, and trapping Wellington Masakadza leg before wicket for 3.
An elated Player of the Match Wanindu Hasaranga said he was delighted at the comeback to winning the series, and that he had been mainly focusing on getting the top order batting and fielding right.
As he was to comment on the podium receiving his Player of the Series Award, Mathews said it was a wholly great comeback for him from a long wilderness in the short format of the game, and that he was devoting his award to his parents who were not there to watch the match. “If it was not for my last over bad patch in the lost game, we would have made it three in a row,” he mused.
Zimbabwe 82 (14.1 Overs)
(Brian Bennet 29, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe 12, Sean Williams 15, Sikandar Raza 10, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 4/15, Maheesh Theekshana 2/14, Angelo Mathews 2/15, Dhananjaya de Silva 1/1 Dilshan Madushanka 1/22)
Sri Lanka 88/1 (10.5 Overs)
(Pathum Nissanka n.o. 39, Kusal Mendis 33, Dhananjaya de Silva n.o. 15, Sean Williams 1/13)