Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe by nine wickets in final T20I to take a 2-1 series victory


The previous two T20I matches between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe produced tense finishes and hard-fought victories, but the last match of the series was a complete walkover for Sri Lanka as they beat Zimbabwe on Thursday by nine wickets to win the series. 

Sri Lanka win January 2024 T20I series vs Zimbabwe
Image: Sri Lanka Cricket

Zimbabwe displayed an uninspiring performance that had begun with some promise, as the Chevrons hit 35 off their first three overs. But this proved to be ephemeral as wickets crumbled with astounding alacrity as the batsmen struggled with spin. 

The Chevrons lost four wickets to Wanindu Hasaranga, two to Maheesh Theekshana, and one to Dhananjaya de Silva, the latter who was playing his first match of the series.

Zimbabwe lost the last nine wickets for paltry 49 runs, and though this was a slow deck given to turn, Sri Lanka expressed no qualms in their chase. They raced to the target in 10.5 overs, losing only one wicket. Sri Lanka's undemanding chase sealed the 2-1 series victory. Sri Lanka won the One Day International (ODI) series 2-0.

Zimbabwe's rapid descent

Zimbabwe's innings commenced on a promising note, limited to 14.1 overs. Brian Bennett, in particular, was the catalyst for seven early boundaries, each delivered through expertly executed drives. 

This was partly due to Sri Lanka's fast bowlers consistently pitching the ball full, looking for swing. 

However, a well-disguised off-cutter from Mathews abruptly terminated Bennett's promising 12-ball innings. Zimbabwe’s fortunes took a sharp downturn following Bennett's dismissal. 

Image: Zimbabwe Cricket

Six wickets in 27 balls

Where Zimbabwe had shown some tenacity with the bat in their previous two matches, their middle and lower orders were conspicuously meek in the final match. 

In this 6-off-27 sequence, Tony Munyonga was first to go, mis-hitting a Hasaranga ball to the midwicket fielder who had been placed in that position earlier.

In the 10th over De Silva then dismissed Sean Williams, taking a caught and bowled, while Hasaranga had the hero of the last match, Luke Jongwe, caught at deep square leg off a top-edged sweep.

In the following over, Hasaranga struck twice more; bagging wickets off his last two deliveries, both with googlies. 

Wellington Masakadza was trapped in front of the stumps, and Richard Ngarava's stumps were soon sent flying. Theekshana completed the team's hat-trick, having Clive Madande caught while attempting a sweep in the first ball of the next over.

Mendis and Nissanka dominate the powerplay

Despite the strong start by Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani earlier in the tour, Sri Lanka sought to break Zimbabwe's spirits early, especially with the small chase at hand. 

The openers struck three boundaries within Ngarava's first two overs, and thereafter escalated their attack.

Each batsman smashed a boundary off Muzarabani's second over, followed by Mendis dismantling Wellington Masakadza and Ngarava, achieving a remarkable six from a top edge in the sixth over. 

By the end of the powerplay, Sri Lanka had amassed 50 runs without any loss of wickets. 

Mendis was eventually dismissed by a splendid delivery from Williams, departing with 33 off 27 – though at that point, the match was firmly well within Sri Lanka's control.

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