Openers Niroshan Dickwella and Danushaka Gunathilaka shared an imposing 229-run for the opening wicket to set up a crushing eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the third ODI played at the MRIC Stadium in Hambantota.
Chasing a formidable 311 to win, Sri Lanka chased down the target for the loss of openers with 16 balls to spare. The win put Sri Lanka 2-1 in the five-match series.
Dickwella and Gunathilaka played with great aggression from the start as they demolished the hapless Zimbabwean bowlers to all corners of the ground as they reached the maiden international limited-over centuries. Dickwella made 102 off 116 balls with 14 boundaries while Gunathilaka made a quick-fire 116 off 111 balls with 16 boundaries and a six. Kusal Mendis and Upul Tharanga shared an unfinished 75 runs for the third wicket to lead Sri Lanka to a comfortable win.
Earlier opener Hamilton Masakadza hit a sparkling century as Zimbabwe posted 310 for eight against Sri Lanka.
Masakadza (111) put on a crucial 127-run partnership for the second wicket with Tarisai Musakanda (48) before Sri Lanka's bowlers struck back at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Cricket Stadium.
Masakadza's 98-ball knock, laced with 15 fours and a six, had Zimbabwe eyeing 350-plus at one point before a middle-order collapse pulled them back.
Teenage leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who took a hat-trick on his ODI debut in the second match in Galle, and paceman Asela Gunaratne grabbed two wickets each.
Sean Williams contributed with a gutsy 43 while cameos from wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Moor (24) and Sikandar Raza (25 not out) helped Zimbabwe cross the 300-run mark.
Sri Lanka fined for slow overate
Sri Lanka has been fined for maintaining a slow over-rate against Zimbabwe during the third One-Day International in Hambantota on Thursday.
Chris Broad of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees imposed the fine after Angelo Mathews’ side was ruled to be one over short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration.
In accordance with Article 2.5.1 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to minor over-rate offences, players are fined 10 per cent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time, with the captain fined double that amount.
As such, Mathews has been fined 20 per cent of his match fee, while his players have received 10 per cent fines. If Sri Lanka commits another minor over-rate breach in an ODI within 12 months of this offence with Mathews as captain, it will be deemed a second offence by Mathews and he will face a suspension.
Mathews pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, so there was no need for a formal hearing.
The charge was laid by on-field umpires Ian Gould and Ranmore Martinesz, third umpire Nigel Llong and fourth official Ruchira Palliyaguruge.
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Sri Lanka Team
N Dickwella†, MD Gunathilaka, BKG Mendis, WU Tharanga, AD Mathews*, DAS Gunaratne, PWH de Silva, PVD Chameera, PADLR Sandakan, SL Malinga, N Pradeep
SF Mire, H Masakadza, CR Ervine, SC Williams, Sikandar Raza, PJ Moor†, TK Musakanda, MN Waller, AG Cremer*, TL Chatara, CT Mumba
Mathews: Pitch will change during the course of the day and that's why we're bowling first. The conditions are hard, you see the wind bowling. We'll have to adjust during the game. We'll see how it goes. This game is a must-win for both teams. The change between the first two games was the attitude.
Cremer: We would have batted. We feel like some of the plates in the wicket have started moving already. If we get runs, we back ourselves to defend in the afternoon. The wind will definitely be a factor when we bat and bowl, but we've spoken about it and hopefully, our plans will work out. In the last game, I think we could have played down the ground a little more than we played the sweep. We've spoken about that too.
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After a two-year hiatus, cricket will finally return to Hambantota, when Sri Lanka hosts Zimbabwe in the third of the five-match ODI series on Thursday.
The stadium was built in 2009 under former president Mahinda Rajapakse in view of the 2011 World Cup, but has hosted only a handful of matches because of its remote location and high maintenance costs.
The venue last hosted Sri Lanka vs Pakistan clash back in July 2015, but since then venue has been abandoned. Sri Lanka posted 368 for four against Pakistan and won by 165 runs.
"It's been a while since we played here. It's a beautiful stadium. It's one of the biggest stadiums in the world and we are delighted to play the three ODIs here," Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews said at the pre-match press conference.
With the series tied at 1-1 after Zimbabwe inflicted a shocking six-wickets defeat in the opener before Sri Lanka came back with a seven-wicket win in the second ODI in Galle to level the series, both teams are keen to take the lead.
Suranga Lakmal who was originally named for the last three matches, has returned home with a flu but the return of Lahiru Kumara will strengthen the fast bowling department which also includes Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Pradeep and Dushmantha Chameera. Chamara Kapugedara also comes back to the side for the last three matches.
Sri Lanka’s biggest concern however is their fielding. Despite greater emphasis on fieldings during training, Sri Lanka has been poor in their catching, dropping as many as six catches in the first two matches.
“Sometimes when we miss catches it spreads like a virus. Pressure is something that players are used to. We do lot of work on fielding. We need to get some concentration going and we need to do that tomorrow,” Mathews commented.
Zimbabwe did well in the opener but failed to handle Sri Lanka’s spin challenge on a turning wicket in the second ODI. With the Sooriyawewa pitch likely to assist seam bowling, it will once again be a different challenge for the visitors who will now look to regroup following Sunday’s defeat.
"The wind is huge out here. That's going to be a factor. We spoke about it. It's going to be tough to hit against the wind and when bowling too. The boundary however looks like they have brought them in. We will assess the conditions again and then do the planning," Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer said.
Zimbabwe: Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Ryan Burl, Graeme Cremer(c), Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chatara, Chris Mpofu, Donald Tiripano, Richard Ngarava, Malcolm Waller, Chamu Chibhabha, Tarisai Musakanda and Carl Mumba.