Zimbabwe hit new lows as Vaas takes 300
Sri Lanka 40 for 1 beat Zimbabwe 35 all out (Vaas 4-11, Maharoof 3-3) by nine wickets
The humiliation of the new "expurgated" Zimbabwe cricket team continued at Harare Sports Club as they crashed to 35 all out, the lowest total ever recorded in a one-day international. The Sri Lankan seamers enjoyed themeselves on a helpful pitch, with Chaminda Vaas taking 4 for 11, including his 300th wicket in one-day internationals. There were three scalps for Farveez Maharoof, on his debut, and two for Dilhara Fernando. Sri Lanka completed a nine-wicket victory, ending the match in 9.2 overs, 70 minutes before lunch.
There was none of the hustle, bustle and excitement that usually exists at one-day internationals in Harare, and the ground has probably never been emptier for such a match, with perhaps only 500 spectators present. The public showed what they thought of the current crisis by staying away in droves. And the events today should ensure that the ground is empty for the two remaining matches, on Tuesday and Thursday.
Sri Lanka also expressed their view of the situation by resting three of their regular players, Upul Chandana, Nuwan Zoysa and Muttiah Muralitharan. Into their places came paceman Fernando, the left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and allrounder Maharoof, the last two both making their one-day debuts. Zimbabwe's maligned selectors showed confidence again in the same side that lost both matches in Bulawayo, although the runless opener Vusi Sibanda was dropped down the order and Stuart Matsikenyeri promoted to open.
Sri Lanka again won the toss and again put Zimbabwe in to bat, expecting early help from the pitch. They found it, and the inexperienced batsmen were totally at sea against the pace and skill of Vaas and Fernando. The new opening pair recorded Zimbabwe's best opening stand of the series - five whole runs - before a foolish mix-up saw Matsikenyeri run out by a direct hit from Herath.
Brendan Taylor and Dion Ebrahim took the total to 18 without further loss, although Taylor survived a hard chance and what looked like a plumb lbw shout, and Ebrahim was nearly run out. Then disaster struck with a vengeance. Fernando, who had been bowling a little too short, decided to pitch the ball up further and let it swing. He quickly removed Ebrahim, driving and edging to the keeper, and then trapped Tatenda Taibu in front first ball. This started a veritable procession that included Vaas's 300th one-day wicket, that of Alester Maregwede who dragged an intended cover-drive into his stumps.
Maharoof took the wicket of Sibanda, slashing a catch to backward point off his fourth ball, and 18 for 1 had become 28 for 8. Mluleki Nkala and Douglas Hondo added seven to give Zimbabwe hope of avoiding history - Canada's one-day low of 36, also set against Sri Lanka, in the 2003 World Cup - but the last two wickets fell at 35, making the disgrace complete. The top-scorer, jointly with extras, was Ebrahim with 7.
Sri Lanka opened with Sanath Jayantha and Russel Arnold, who were tested by some good deliveries from Hondo, at 24 the oldest member of the team, and Zimbabwe tried their utmost in the field. Arnold in particular found Hondo's movement a handful, and eventually rewarded him with his wicket, caught low by Taibu for 6. Tinashe Panyangara rose to the occasion with some good bowling, forcing Sri Lanka to work hard, until Jayantha decided he had had enough and pumped him for four through the covers and six over fine leg off successive deliveries to end the match.
There may be a good side to this for Zimbabwe cricket. Such a complete humiliation will surely increase the pressure on the politicians now running the Zimbabwe Cricket Union to come to terms with the so-called dissident players.