Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe 2nd T20I 2023/24


Zimbabwe 178 for 6 (Ervine 70, Jongwe 25*, Theekshana 2-25) beat Sri Lanka 173 for 6 (Asalanka 69, Mathews 66*, Jongwe 2-32, Muzarabani 2-36) by four wickets

Spectacular striking in the final over from Luke Jongwe and Clive Madande, saw Zimbabwe tear to a rousing win, in the third tense finish of this tour. Madande hit the winning blow with one ball to spare, but it had been Craig Ervine who had set up the chase of 174 with his 70 off 54.

Ervine had blunted the bowling of Wanindu Hasaranga in particular, who went at 10.25 across his four overs. Still, Zimbabwe needed 20 off the final over, bowled by Angelo Mathews. Though Zimbabwe’s power-hitting was immense, Sri Lanka also made huge errors to concede victory from a strong position.

The last over

The most Zimbabwe had scored from an over before the last one was 13. But captain Hasaranga had used up all his frontliners by the 19th over, in an attempt to close out the match, and he was stuck with having to bowl one of his gentle seamers – Mathews or Dasun Shanaka – in the 20th. And to make things worse for the hosts, they could have just four fielders outside the 30-yard-circle as they were penalised for a slow over rate.

Jongwe was eight off seven balls at this stage. But faced with modest bowling, he began to find the boundary. The first ball was length outside off, which he bludgeoned over long on for six. Crucially, it turned out that Mathews had overstepped when bowling that ball, so Zimbabwe still had six to face.

The next ball – a free-hit – was smashed inside out over cover, as Mathews missed his yorker-length. Then, the killer blow – a thumping six over the bowler’s head, off a slower ball, as Mathews once again let Jongwe get underneath him. Within the space of two legal deliveries, the requirement had come down to three runs, off four balls.

Jongwe would miss the next ball, then send the following one high into the infield off the top edge, only to be dropped by Maheesh Theekshana. Madande applied the finishing blow off the fifth ball, crashing the third six of the over beyond deep midwicket to start lively celebrations, and to send Colombo into a hush.

Ervine’s platform

Where Sri Lanka’s powerplay had been characterised by a hail of wickets, Zimbabwe built steadily within theirs. In fact Ervine struck the only boundary while the fielding restrictions were in force (he was 14 off 19 at the end of the sixth over). But then he began to find the boundary more often through the middle overs, taking a liking to Hasaranga in particular, as he and Brian Bennett put on 74 off 53 balls for the second wicket.

He got to fifty off his 38th delivery, and began to attack even more intently, as the required rate ballooned out towards 15. Hasaranga would get him with a googly eventually – Ervine sending it straight up off a leading edge – but he had kept Zimbabwe in the game and the likes of Ryan Burl (13 off 9), Jongwe (25 not out off 12), and Madande (15 not out off 5), still with half a chance.

Zimbabwe’s seamers cut down the Sri Lanka top order

Jongwe had been among those inflicting serious damage at the start of the game too. Blessing Muzarabani got two wickets in his first over – the second of the innings – dismissing Pathum Nissanka off a thick edge that flew to short third, and getting Kusal Perera caught off a short ball. Jongwe then had Mendis slap a wide ball to point, before Wellington Masakadza had Sadeera Samarawickrama caught behind. This had left Sri Lanka at 27 for 4, and their innings needing extensive repair work.

Charith Asalanka and Angelo Mathews raise Sri Lanka out of trouble

It’s not often that a 118-run stand (a record for the fifth wicket for Sri Lanka) ends up on the losing side. Nevertheless, Charith Asalanka and Mathews’ work through the middle overs was impressive. Asalanka played the more proactive innings, shuffling around his crease to break the shackles when the Zimbabwe spinners were threatening to tie the partnership down. He was especially good in the 15th over when he struck Wellington Masakadza for a six and two fours off consecutive deliveries.

Mathews would join in the hitting too next over, when they clattered 20 runs off Muzarabani, who had conceded only four runs and taken two wickets in his first two overs. Asalanka was eventually caught on the backward point boundary for 69 off 39 balls, in the 18th over. Mathews stayed not out on 66 off 51.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is a writer at ESPNcricinfo. @afidelf

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