A cameo late rally innings by Thisara Perera of 64 off 37 balls packed with 5 boundaries and 3 sixes saw Sri Lanka lose by a narrow 12 runs chasing 291 to win in their opening match against Zimbabwe in the Tri Nation Series in Dhaka yesterday.
Having taken strike with Sri Lanka on 157 for 4 wickets at the fall of skipper Angelo Mathews for 42, Perera rallied Sri Lanka through a fifth wicket partnership of 27 with Dinesh Chandimal (34). But from there he fought a virtual lone battle after Asela Gunaratne had departed for 4 with the total on 194. The hard hitting all-rounder forged a seventh wicket alliance of 30 runs with Wanidu Hasaranga as Sri Lanka reached 224 for 7 wickets when the latter exited for 11 by the second ball of the 40th over. However, the Former White-Ball skipper continued to attack with a six off Greme Cremer over long-off for his second six before an edge through third man brought the equation down to under a run-a-ball. Before that he had also smashed Graeme Cremer for 15 runs in the 38th over in taking the total from 199 for 6 to 214. But Perera’s rear guard effort ended with Sri Lanka 16 runs away from the target when he was caught by Sikandar Raza off Tendai Chatara off the fourth ball of the 47th over. Nine balls later the Lankans was all out for 278 in 48.1 overs.
Upfront, opening batsman Kusal Janith Perera stood firm posting 46 runs for the first wicket and then blunting the Zimbabwe bowling in helping Sri Lanka to recover from 47 for 2 to 132 before holing out for an 83-ball 80 containing 8 boundaries and 2 sixes. He brought up his half century off 32 balls and posted 85 runs with Mathews for the third wicket. Mathews was fourth out with the total on 157 in 31st over his 64-ball 42 inclusive of a boundary and a six. But Dinesh Chandimal, recalled after a brief lay off, continued to carry the attack striking a six off Waller in his 33-ball knock containing 3 boundaries and a six.
Zimbabwe, put into bat by Sri Lanka, posted an imposing 290 for 6 wickets boosted by a top score of 81 by Sikandar Raza and 73 by H. Masakadza. Masakadza, playing in his 100th ODI, gave his side a flying start putting on 75 for the first wicket with S.F. Mire who made 34. The breakthrough came through first change bowler Thisara Perera to whom skipper Angelo Mathews switched to after having had Akila Dananjaya share the new ball with Suranga Lakmal. The Sri Lankan bowlers had to fight hard for wickets with Zimbabwe on the run charge with solid partnerships of 57 each for the third and fifth wickets, and 61 for the sixth wicket. Masakadza was third out with the total on 142 in the third ball of the 28th over when Asela Gunaratne had him held by substitute fielder Dhanushka Gunathilake. His 83-ball knock contained 10 boundaries. He put on for 3 wickets in 27.3 overs. Raza’s 67-ball knock contained 8 boundaries and a six.
Asela Gunaratne claimed 3 wickets for 37 and Thisara Perera 2 for 43.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-