By M. Shamil Amit
Zimbabwe levelled the three-match series against hosts Sri Lanka with a comfortable 22-run win in the 2nd ODI played at the Pallekele International Stadium yesterday.
Sri Lanka were again set with a challenging run chase of 303, but unlike the first ODI were unable to fashion a win, as they were restricted for a score of 280, despite fighting knocks coming from skipper Dasun Shanaka and Kamindu Mendis.
The run chase was always going to be a daunting task, more so after they lost the wickets of match winners in the first ODI Pathum Nissanka, Dinesh Chandimal and Charith Asalanka cheaply, as they struggled in the early stages with four of their top batsmen back in the pavilion with the score on 63 in the 15th over.
Skipper Shanaka and Kamindu Mendis resisted the Zimbabwe bowling but the dismissal of the latter after the pair had put on 118 for the fourth wicket saw the hosts falling back.
The run rate kept going up and skipper and Shanaka was left with only one recognized batsman in Chamika Karunaratne and 122 runs required in 93 balls.
Despite a 94-ball knock of 102 which comprised seven boundaries and four sixes coming from skipper Shanaka, his maiden ODI ton, and a 66-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Karunaratne, his dismissal was the nail in the coffin.
Karunaratne did not last long after, being dismissed going for a cheeky second run, turning the game much in favour of Zimbabwe as Sri Lanka were restricted to 280 in 50 overs.
Early proceedings saw Zimbabwe skipper Craig Ervine, who won the toss and opted to take first lease of the wicket, make a 98-ball knock of 91 inclusive of ten boundaries after openers Tajudzwanashe Kaitano and Regis Chakabva gave the side a sound start putting on a run-a-ball 59.
This followed with skipper Ervine associating in two fruitful partnerships, of 41 runs for the second wicket with Chakabva and 106 runs for the third wicket with first match centurion Sean Williams who made 48.
Later Sikandar Raza who made a quick-fire 56 in 46 balls inclusive of four boundaries and a six joined skipper Ervine and added a valuable 51 runs for the fifth wicket and then along with Ryan Burl put on 43 runs in 31 balls, paving the way for Zimbabwe to post a formidable score of 302 for 8.
The two teams will play their deciding third match on January 21.