Andrew Fidel Fernando courtesy of ESPNcricinfo, 21 January 2018…. where the title reads “Thisara Perera’s all-round brilliance keeps Sri Lanka alive”
Thisara Perera blasted out Zimbabwe’s top order, Nuwan Pradeep cleaned up the tail, and Dinesh Chandimal shepherded home a stilted chase, with five wickets and 31 balls to spare. This first victory of 2018 was that very rare Sri Lanka phenomenon – an occasion in which the team’s supposed senior players played in a manner befitting their station. Their efforts mean all three sides stay alive in the tournament, with two matches to play before the final.
For Zimbabwe, Brendan Taylor stitched together a measured 58 and seam bowler Blessing Muzarabani shot out three top-order batsmen in the middle overs, but these were lone performances. The next-highest score in Zimbabwe’s innings was Graeme Cremer’s 34, while lower-order wickets were falling around him. The game’s tone, in effect, was set down in the first 17 overs, inside of which Zimbabwe slipped to 73 for 4.
It was Thisara who was responsible for those early dismissals. Now clearly in the midst of one of his hot streaks, he has rediscovered the bowling weapon that was responsible for his early success: the short ball. With it, he had Hamilton Masakadza miscuing a pull to midwicket, Solomin Mire top-edging a hook to the keeper, and later, Taylor himself caught at fine leg thanks to another mis-hit hook. Only the dismissal of Craig Ervine – caught at slip – was the result of a fuller delivery. Thisara’s figures of 4 for 33 were his best since 2012. So often a confidence player, Thisara’s batting was also important to the victory. He hit 39 not out off 26 balls, and sealed the game with a thumping six into the empty stands beyond deep midwicket.
Though no other bowlers were as penetrative as Thisara, the Sri Lanka attack, nevertheless did hunt together to produce a performance of rare quality. That Zimbabwe were bowled out in 44 overs was down to the attack’s discipline, almost all the way through the innings. The new-ball operators largely kept to good lines. The spinners were swept efficiently again, but thanks to Thisara’s early wickets, were not overwhelmed by the match situation. In fact, Lakshan Sandakan and Akila Dananjaya were proficient in tandem – the latter focusing on containment, while the former went hunting for wickets. Pradeep’s finishing blows came quickly and suddenly, the opposition slipping from 191 for 7 to 198 all out, as reverse-swinging deliveries sped through lower-order defences.
Taylor’s had been a rebuilding innings, and the match situation never really allowed him to break into a high gear. All but seven of his runs came on the legside, with Sri Lanka’s bowlers often targeting the stumps. He appeared comfortable at the crease, especially during a 66-run association with Malcolm Waller, but perhaps he was hampered by a stiff back. Taylor had treatment during his innings, but did not take the field, handing over wicketkeeping duties to sub-fielder Ryan Murray.
There was hope for Zimbabwe when Upul Tharanga played on to a Tendai Chatara delivery in the 10th over, but Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera strung together a 70-run stand. And despite three quick wickets later on, Sri Lanka seemed to have the measure of the chase. Kusal Perera was the busier player, finding regular singles square of the wicket, and venturing the game’s first six in the 11th over, over long off. Mendis showed glimpses of form, without ever really announcing a return to it. With just under 100 runs to get, Muzarabani had them both dismissed in quick succession to spark a minor stutter. Sri Lanka would go 52 balls without a boundary, but so long as Chandimal was at the crease, there was no cause for panic. He inched Sri Lanka close, before Thisara’s blows lurched the side to the target.
Zimbabwe will regard the match as a missed opportunity, for a total of 250 might have been enough to crack this brittle Sri Lanka batting line-up. They would have progressed to the final had they won, but now, not even victory against Bangladesh – the form team of the tournament so far – will see them claim a place in the final for certain. Where on Wednesday, the contributions of Zimbabwe’s spinners were vital to taking Sri Lanka down, neither Sikandar Raza nor Cremer could make a breakthrough in this match.
Sri Lanka 202 for 5 (Kusal Perera 49, Thisara 39*, Muzarabani 3-52) beat Zimbabwe 198 (Taylor 58, Thisara 4-33, Pradeep 3-28) by five wickets
Zimbabwe Innings (50 overs maximum)not out270028.57Extras23 (lb 8, w 15)TOTAL198 all out (44 Overs, RR: 4.50)Fall of wickets: 1-44 (H Masakadza, 9.6 ov), 2-49 (CR Ervine, 11.4 ov), 3-56 (SF Mire, 13.3 ov), 4-73 (Sikandar Raza, 16.4 ov), 5-139 (MN Waller, 28.6 ov), 6-140 (PJ Moor, 29.4 ov), 7-171 (BRM Taylor, 37.4 ov), 8-191 (KM Jarvis, 41.3 ov), 9-198 (AG Cremer, 43.2 ov), 10-198 (B Muzarabani, 43.6 ov)
Sri Lanka Innings (target: 199 runs from 50 overs)not out38712053.52not out392613150.00Extras7 (lb 3, nb 1, w 3)TOTAL202/5 (44.5 Overs, RR: 4.50)Fall of wickets: 1-33 (WU Tharanga, 9.1 ov), 2-103 (MDKJ Perera, 21.5 ov), 3-110 (BKG Mendis, 23.6 ov), 4-117 (N Dickwella, 25.3 ov), 5-145 (DAS Gunaratne, 34.4 ov)
Player Of The Match
Hours of play (local time)
- Powerplay 1: Overs 0.1 – 10.0 (Mandatory – 33 runs, 1 wicket)
- RC Murray kept wickets for BRM Taylor from over no 6. First instance of a sub keeper in international cricket after the rule changes.
- Powerplay 2: Overs 10.1 – 40.0 (Mandatory – 133 runs, 4 wickets)
- Sri Lanka: 50 runs in 12.1 overs (74 balls), Extras 3
- Drinks: Sri Lanka – 72/1 in 15.5 overs (MDKJ Perera 39, BKG Mendis 13)
- 2nd Wicket: 50 runs in 52 balls (MDKJ Perera 28, BKG Mendis 21, Ex 1)
- Sri Lanka: 100 runs in 21.1 overs (128 balls), Extras 3
- Drinks: Sri Lanka – 132/4 in 32.0 overs (LD Chandimal 14, DAS Gunaratne 5)
- Sri Lanka: 150 runs in 35.6 overs (217 balls), Extras 5
- Over 38.1: Review by Zimbabwe (Bowling), Umpire – Masudur Rahman, Batsman – LD Chandimal (Struck down)
- Powerplay 3: Overs 40.1 – 50.0 (Mandatory – 36 runs, 0 wicket)
- 6th Wicket: 50 runs in 56 balls (LD Chandimal 15, NLTC Perera 33, Ex 2)
- Sri Lanka: 200 runs in 44.5 overs (270 balls), Extras 7
|SRI LANKA INNINGS||R||B|
|MDKJ Perera||caught wk||49||57|
|N Dickwella||caught wk||7||17|
|LD Chandimal||not out||38||71|
|DAS Gunaratne||caught wk||9||21|
|NLTC Perera||not out||39||26|
|EXTRAS||(lb 3, w 3, nb 1)|
|TOTAL||202 (5 wkts; 44.5 ovs)|
|1st||33||WU Tharanga||MDKJ Perera|
|2nd||70||MDKJ Perera||BKG Mendis|
|3rd||7||N Dickwella||BKG Mendis|
|4th||7||LD Chandimal||N Dickwella|
|5th||28||LD Chandimal||DAS Gunaratne|
|6th||57||NLTC Perera||LD Chandimal|