In a rain-shortened ODI match, Sri Lankan spin bowler Wanindu Hasaranga made a remarkable return to international cricket, taking a career-best 7-19 to help Sri Lanka secure an eight-wicket victory over Zimbabwe and clinch the two-match series at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium.
In his first match after a six-month hamstring injury layoff, Hasaranga decimated the Zimbabwean batting lineup, bowling them out for a paltry 96 runs. Sri Lanka chased down the target in just 17 overs, with Kusal Mendis’ unbeaten 66 from 51 balls leading the way.
Zimbabwe had looked promising early on, reaching 43 for no loss, but Hasaranga’s introduction turned the game on its head. His googlies wreaked havoc, claiming three wickets in his second over and sending the visitors reeling to 47-3. Four of his wickets were leg before wicket dismissals, highlighting his mastery of spin bowling.
Hasaranga’s performance marked a new record for the R. Premadasa Stadium, surpassing Angelo Mathews’ previous best of 6-20 against India in 2009. It also stands as the second-best ODI bowling figures by a Sri Lankan bowler, trailing only Chaminda Vaas’ 8-19 against Zimbabwe in 2001.
As he walked off the field, Hasaranga received a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.
Opening batsman Joylord Gumbie top-scored for Zimbabwe with 29, while skipper Kusal Mendis formed a crucial 73-run partnership with debutant Shevon Daniel (12) to guide Sri Lanka to victory with ease.
The first match of the series was washed out due to rain, but Sri Lanka emerged victorious in the second game, securing a narrow two-wicket win. The two teams will now square off in a three-match T20I series, starting on Sunday, with all games being played at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium.
Going forward, Zimbabwe will undoubtedly feel they were undone by the wizardry of Wanindu Hasaranga. In the second match, Zimbabwe were thoroughly competitive, so that is a positive sign for the team, as captain Craig Ervine acknowledged.
Sri Lanka will be relieved to have won the ODI series after their dismal performance at the ODI World Cup, where they failed to impress with both bat and ball. They made good use of home conditions to defeat Zimbabwe 2-1.
Now, all attention shifts to the T20I series, and the visitors will undoubtedly feel more confident about turning the tables in the shortest format of the game. Sikandar Raza’s role will undoubtedly become crucial, as he has been the star player for Zimbabwe in the shortest format over the past two years.