Sri Lanka made to work for victory
Sri Lanka 107 for 5 (Dilshan 33, Price 2-9) beat Zimbabwe 106 for 8 (Taibu 45*, Mendis 3-15) by five wickets
Sri Lanka opened the T20 Canada tournament in King City with a five-wicket win against Zimbabwe, but were made to work hard chasing 107 in a match reduced to 17 overs per side by early-morning rain. Ray Price bowled a superb economical spell of left-arm spin, and a couple of run-outs increased the pressure, however Sri Lanka's middle order completed the chase with an over to spare in front of a few hundreds spectators.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Udawatte began briskly, adding 36 in four overs, before Udawatte was caught behind. Price caused problems from the start and debutant Jeevantha Kulatunga struggled for 20 balls - and was dropped at deep midwicket - until being bowled for 8. A mild dose of panic hit the middle order as Thilina Kandamby was run out trying for a quick single, followed next ball by captain Mahela Jayawardene who fell without facing. It's a long way to come to not face a ball.
Dilshan was playing neatly, but in the next over he became Price's second scalp and suddenly Sri Lanka's reply was far from smooth at 77 for 5. It was proving tough to score against the spinners, while there was a hint of rustiness from Sri Lanka who only arrived in Canada two days ago.
However, no one could quite match Price's effort and when he finished his four-over spell the pressure was released. Chamara Kapugedera and Farveez Maharoof both hit sixes to calm the nerves and the sixth-wicket pair finished the match with an over to spare.
Zimbabwe's efforts in the field were commendable, but their batting let them down after a delayed start due to a damp outfield. Sri Lanka's bowlers proved a tough proposition with Maharoof nipping out two with the new ball, Thilan Thushara a brace in the middle and Ajantha Mendis - on his Twenty20 debut - three at the end.
Tatenda Taibu, the former captain, offered the most prolonged resistance as he finished on 45 off 47 deliveries to push Zimbabwe into three figures. He was at the crease in the fourth over after Maharoof removed both openers and Thushara, the left-arm quick, further dented Zimbabwe's progress with a tight spell of 2 for 19.
Mendis has proved too good for far better players than Zimbabwe's lower order and he helped himself to a few easy pickings. Elton Chigumbura was caught behind and Prosper Utseya was stranded by Mendis' carrom ball, which turns away from the right-handers. Sri Lanka weren't at their best, but it was still enough to clear the first hurdle.