Sri Lanka secured a comfortable 8-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the third and final ODI, clinching the series 2-0 at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium yesterday.
The rain interrupted the game twice, but Sri Lanka asserted dominance from the beginning. In pursuit of the 97-run target, skipper Kusal Mendis scored an unbeaten 66 in 51 balls, featuring 9 fours and a six. Debutant Shevon Daniel contributed 12 runs in 28 balls, while Sadeera Samarawickrama remained unbeaten with 14 in 17 balls, steering the victory in 16.4 overs.
Although opener Avishka Fernando faltered and was dismissed for a duck, skipper Mendis remained resolute in ensuring success. Wanindu Hasaranga earned the Man of the Match award for his outstanding figures, and newcomer Janith Liyanage was named Man of the Series.
Leg-spinner, Wanindu Hasaranga, who returned to the field after a six-month injury hiatus, once again showcased his prowess by taking 3 wickets in two overs and conceding only 5 runs. The match was temporarily halted due to rain after 11.5 overs of play in the first session as Zimbabwe were 48 for 3.
Winning the toss, Zimbabwe opted to bat first, and the openers, Joylord Gumbie (29) and Takudzwanashe Kaitano (17), gave a good start with a 43-run partnership for the first wicket.
The match started as scheduled at 2:30 pm, and it marked the debut ODI for the young Shevon Daniel. However, when the score reached 40 for no loss in 7.4 overs, the game was halted due to rain. Play resumed, but the match was reduced to 43 overs per side.
Hasaranga made an impact by taking the first three wickets, conceding only 5 runs. However, rain once again interrupted the game at 5:34 pm. Despite efforts by the ground staff, the heavy rain persisted, and the match couldn’t resume until 7 pm.
Wanindu Hasaranga made the first breakthrough, dismissing Kaitano with Dilshan Madushanka taking a comfortable catch at short fine leg. Gumbie was LBW to Hasaranga at 10.3 overs, and skipper Craig Ervine, who scored a fine knock of 82 in the second game, was LBW to Hasaranga and returned to the pavilion without scoring. The game resumed at 8 pm with the umpires once again reducing the match to 27 overs-a-side. Hasaranga, the leg-spinner, began his bowling with added pressure, as Zimbabwe struggled in their shortened innings.
Hasaranga, bowling from both ends, achieved his career-best figures of 7 for 19 in his 5.5-over spell.
Zimbabwe was all out for 96 with 4.1 overs to spare, with four batsmen dismissed for LBW out of Hasaranga’s seven wickets. Sri Lanka made two changes, bringing in Wanindu Hasaranga and Shevon Daniel for Dasun Shanaka and Jeffrey Vandersay.