ZIMBABWE clinched its first one-day international series win against Sri Lanka after beating the hosts by three wickets in the decider to secure a 3-2 victory on Monday.
Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer won the toss and sent Sri Lanka into bat, with his bowlers restricting the hosts to 203-8 in 50 overs. Opener Hamilton Masakadza then scored 73 runs to help the tourists reach 204 in the 39th over with three wickets in hand, despite a middle-order batting collapse.
It was Zimbabwe’s first ODI series victory over Sri Lanka in six attempts.
Offspinner Sikandar Raza played a key role in Monday’s victory, finishing with 3-21 his best bowling figures in one-day internationals, before scoring 27 runs at the end to earn a victory that had begun to look in doubt.
Seamer Tendai Chatara struck the first blow, having in-form batsman Niroshan Dickwella caught by wicketkeeper Peter Moor with the total on 3 in the second over. Dickwella had scored successive centuries in the previous two games.
Raza had Kusal Mendis caught by Cremer and then bowled Upul Tharanga to leave Sri Lanka tottering on 31-3.
Opener Danushka Gunathilaka and skipper Angelo Mathews combined for a 47-run partnership but Mathews fell for 24, caught by Masakadza off Cremer.
Gunathilaka brought up his seventh one-day half-century and was dismissed for 52.
A flurry of wickets saw Sri Lanka eight down for 153, before ninth-wicket pair Asela Gunaratne and Dushmantha Chameera added 50 runs to give the hosts a more respectable total. Gunaratne was their top scorer with 59 runs not out.
In reply, Masakadza and fellow opener Solomon Mire dominated Sri Lanka’s attack with a 92-run partnership which ended when Mire (43) was bowled by Gunaratne.
Masakadza scored his runs in 86 deliveries, including nine fours and a six. He was dismissed when Zimbabwe’s total was on 137, triggering a collapse in which Zimbabwe lost five more wickets for 38 runs to reach 175-7.
However, Raza came to the rescue with a run-a-ball 27 to see his side through to a historic win.