Ervine, Jongwe shine as Zimbabwe level series against Sri Lanka in a hard-fought match


Luke Jongwe and Clive Madande successfully chased down the 20 runs needed from the last six balls, leading Zimbabwe to a 4-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the second T20I match in Colombo to level the series.  

Zimbabwe beat Sri Lanka by 4 wickets to level series
Image: ZimCricketv/X

With two runs required from two balls, Clive Madande sealed the win with a massive six over deep mid-wicket, sparking jubilant celebrations in the dressing room for the Chevrons.

The chase rested on the foundation set by former captain Craig Ervine with his blistering 70 off 54 balls. 

Ervine's excellent batting blunted the bowling attack, especially Wanindu Hasaranga, who went at 10.25 runs per over across his four overs. Despite Zimbabwe's strong performance, they still needed 20 runs off the final over, bowled by Angelo Mathews. 

The Chevrons' power-hitting was immense, and Sri Lanka made crucial errors that ultimately led to their defeat from a strong position in particular Theekshana who dropped Luke Jongwe on the 4th ball of the last over.

The final over!

It was a thrilling and dramatic finish to the match as Luke Jongwe's explosive hitting in the final over turned the game in Zimbabwe's favor. The fact that Angelo Mathews had overstepped on the first ball, giving Jongwe a free hit, proved to be a crucial turning point.

Jongwe's aggressive batting under pressure, including two massive sixes and a boundary, brought the required runs down to just three off four balls.

Despite a couple of nervy moments, including a dropped catch, Clive Madande sealed the victory with a powerful six off the fifth ball of the over. 

Where Sri Lanka's powerplay had been characterized by a flurry of wickets, Zimbabwe steadily built their innings. In fact, Ervine managed to strike the only boundary while the fielding restrictions were in effect (he was 14 off 19 by the end of the sixth over). 

However, he began finding the boundary more frequently during the middle overs, exhibiting a particular fondness for Hasaranga. Together with Brian Bennett, they put on 74 runs off 53 balls for the second wicket.

Ervine reached his fifty off his 38th delivery and proceeded to launch even more aggressive assaults as the required run rate surged towards 15. 

Eventually, Hasaranga dismissed him with a googly – Ervine sent it straight up off a leading edge – but he had effectively kept Zimbabwe in the game. Players like Ryan Burl (13 off 9), Jongwe (25 not out off 12), and Madande (15 not out off 5) still had a fighting chance to turn the game around.

Jongwe had also inflicted serious damage at the start of the game with the ball he finished with figures of 2-32. Blessing Muzarabani made an impact by taking two wickets in his first over. 

He dismissed Pathum Nissanka with a thick edge that flew to short third, and then got Kusal Perera caught off a short ball. 

Following this, Jongwe had Mendis slap a wide ball to point, and Wellington Masakadza successfully had Sadeera Samarawickrama caught behind. These dismissals left Sri Lanka at 27 for 4, requiring extensive repair work to salvage their innings.

The recovery act was spearheaded by Charith Asalanka, who played a proactive innings and showcased his ability to break the shackles against the Zimbabwe spinners. 

He shuffled around his crease to counter the threat and was particularly effective in the 15th over, where he struck Wellington Masakadza for a six and two fours off consecutive deliveries.

Angelo Mathews also contributed significantly, joining in the hitting in the following over as they scored 20 runs off Muzarabani, who had been economical and taken two wickets in his first two overs. 

Asalanka's aggressive approach came to an end when he was caught on the backward point boundary for 69 off 39 balls in the 18th over, while Mathews remained not out on 66 off 51.The pair had combined for a record 118 partnership for the fifth wicket. 

The teams will go into the final match on Thursday with eyes on the series trophy.

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