Sri Lanka flirted with danger by naming just four specialist batsmen for the three-game run against Zimbabwe and setting a target of 303 in the second ODI. The hosts managed just 280 for nine and lost the game by 22 runs here in Pallekele yesterday.
Sri Lanka’s recent problem in white ball cricket was their terrible at bat and it was bizarre to keep it with just four batters, most of whom were not in the best shape.
Questions had been raised about Dasun Shanaka backing himself up to bat at number six as he hadn’t accomplished much as a batsman. His form wasn’t all that great heading into the series either. But he justified the decision with an initial hundred coming from just 93 deliveries with seven fours and two sixes. But Sri Lanka needed more from their captain and probably could have gotten more coverage in the batting division.
Shanaka had raised his hundred by clearing the mid-wicket line and after muffled celebrations he attempted another six but failed to clear the long-off line.
Sri Lanka had a terrible start when they were reduced to 63 for four. Then Shanaka rebuilt the innings by adding 118 runs for the fifth wicket with Kamindu Mendis (57). Another 66-run tie followed for the sixth wicket with Chamika Karunaratne (34) but Sri Lanka were always catching up as no team had successfully chased more than 300 runs from Pallekele.
Zimbabwe’s young sailors did an amazing job taking wickets with the new ball and then the trio of Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava came back to turn things around in the death overs as Sri Lanka 100 runs in 70 needed balls.
Despite filling up with bowlers and the return of Dushmantha Chameera, who missed the first game and was not medically cleared to play after testing positive for COVID, Sri Lanka allowed 302 runs when Zimbabwe chose to take first to hit.
Chameera is the best fast in the country and although he generated pace he was unable to claim wickets.
Captain Craig Ervine was the star for Zimbabwe as he placed 91 of 98 deliveries with ten fours.
Zimbabwe started well with the openers adding 51 runs for the first wicket before Jeffrey Vandersay’s leg spin claimed both Regis Chakabva and Takudzwanashe Kaitano. Chakabva was cleverly stunned by Kusal Mendis. It was his first stumping in international cricket and Mendis did another stumping when Vandersay lured Sean Williams forward. Williams had scored 100 in the previous game.
Zimbabwe’s lower-middle class had failed in the first ODI, but it clicked yesterday as Sikandar Raza stitched up some crucial partnerships. The sixth wicket score between him and Ryan Burl was worth 41 runs, while Raza added 51 runs with Ervine.
Raza was the last man to be fired for a well-served 56 coming out of 46 deliveries with four fours and a six.
Pradeep claimed two wickets in the last left of the innings. Sri Lanka used a whopping eight bowlers but couldn’t stop Zimbabwe from scoring a winning total.