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Sri Lanka were flirting with danger after appointing just four specialist batsmen for the three-game series against Zimbabwe and setting a target of 303 in the second ODI, the hosts managed just 280 for nine and lost the match by 22 points here at Pallekele yesterday.
Sri Lanka’s recent problem in whiteball cricket has been their terrible hitting and it was bizarre to be left with just four batters most of whom weren’t at their best.
Questions had been asked about Dasun Shanaka backing up at bat at number six as he hadn’t accomplished much as a batsman. His form was also not so good before the series. But he justified his decision with a first hundred which was only achieved in 93 deliveries with seven fours and two sixes. But Sri Lanka needed more from their captain and probably could have gone home with more cover in the batting department.
Shanaka had raised his hundred by clearing the mid-wicket boundary and after muted celebrations attempted six more but failed to clear the long-standing boundary.
Sri Lanka got off to a horrible start as they were reduced to 63 for four. Then Shanaka rebuilt the innings adding 118 runs for the fifth wicket with Kamindu Mendis (57). Another 66-run stand followed for the sixth wicket with Chamika Karunaratne (34), but Sri Lanka were still playing catch-up as neither side had managed to chase more than 300 runs at Pallekele.
Zimbabwe’s young tailors did a terrific job after taking wickets with the new ball and then the trio of Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava came back to pull things off in the deathmatch as Sri Lanka needed of 100 races in 70 balls.
Despite their team being packed with bowlers and the return of Dushmantha Chameera, who missed the opener without being medically cleared to play after testing positive for COVID, Sri Lanka conceded 302 points as Zimbabwe chose to strike first.
Chameera is the best quick in the country and although he generated pace, he couldn’t claim any wickets.
Captain Craig Ervine was the star for Zimbabwe as he posted 91 out of 98 deliveries with ten fours.
Zimbabwe got off to a good start with the openers adding 51 runs for the first wicket before Jeffrey Vandersay’s leg trick claimed both Regis Chakabva and Takudzwanashe Kaitano. Chakabva was cleverly perplexed by Kusal Mendis. It was his first strain in international cricket and Mendis inflicted another strain when Vandersay lured Sean Williams forward. Williams had scored one hundred in the previous game.
Zimbabwe’s lower middle order failed in the first ODI but yesterday they clicked with Sikandar Raza in forging crucial partnerships. The sixth wicket between him and Ryan Burl was worth 41 runs while Raza added 51 runs with Ervine.
Raza was the last man fired for a well-respected 56 that came off 46 deliveries with four fours and a six.
Pradeep claimed two wickets in the last leg of the innings. Sri Lanka used up to eight bowlers but couldn’t prevent Zimbabwe from scoring a win total.