Masakadza 117* stuns Sri Lanka in warm-up
Zimbabwe 281 for 3 (Masakadza 117*, Taylor 63, Williams 51*) beat Sri Lanka 279 for 8 (Karunaratne 58, Mendis 51, Williams 3-35)
A Hamilton Masakadza ton led Zimbabwe to an upset victory over Sri Lanka in both teams' final warm-up before the World Cup, running down Sri Lanka's 279 with seven wickets in hand and 4.4 overs to spare. Masakadza remained unbeaten on 117 from 119 balls, having forged hundred-stands with both Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams, who hit fifties.
The match, however, was a low-octane affair and, as such, only so much can be read into it. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews had got a hundred and a fifty respectively in the last warm-up match, and did not bat at Lincoln. Both sides also chose to test the depth of their bowling resources instead of allocating full quotas to their frontline bowlers.
But even given those allowances, Sri Lanka will be concerned at the lack of menace in their attack, despite Lasith Malinga's return. Malinga himself was bowling off a full run up and regularly found the yorker length, but seemed some way from his quickest pace. The other bowlers were wayward toward the end of the innings, sending down hittable length balls when tighter lines and more considered lengths were required.
Masakadza and Taylor were joined in the seventh over, and it was their 127-run stand from 126 balls that broke the back of the chase. Taylor struck six fours in his 68-ball 63, while Masakadza struck at close to a run-a-ball throughout his innings. Taylor was out flicking a legside Dilshan ball to short fine leg in the 28th over, but Williams was soon scoring briskly. He and Masakadza effectively took the match away from Sri Lanka in the batting Powerplay, which was taken in the 35th over.
Masakadza reached his century off the 103rd ball he faced, with a single to deep cover off Rangana Herath. In all he hit eight fours and three sixes, the last of which was a straight hit into the sightscreen, off Herath. There was a buzz in the Zimbabwe dressing room during the second half of the chase, but when Williams drove through wide mid-off to bring up the winning runs, their joy were restrained. There were no ecstatic celebrations, just measured applause and congratulations.
Nuwan Kulasekara was perhaps the best of Sri Lanka's bowlers, taking 1 for 23 runs in his five overs. Malinga went at 6.57 runs in his seven overs, while Lakmal disappeared for eight an over in his seven. Herath was the most economical, conceding only 27 from his six.
Earlier, Tinashe Panyangara made the first incision after Sri Lanka opted to bat, dismissing makeshift opener Kumar Sangakkara for 8. Lahiru Thirimanne and Mahela Jayawardene then launched a 62-run stand, but were both dismissed for 30, in quick succession.
Dimuth Karunaratne hit 58 off 71 from No. 4 to raise his chances of playing in Sri Lanka's middle order in the tournament curtain-raiser on Saturday, perhaps edging out Dinesh Chandimal, who made 29 from 46. Sri Lanka had modest contributions from elsewhere in their lower middle order, but stuttered through the second half of their innings, as Williams claimed 3 for 35 from his 10 overs of left-arm spin. It was Jeevan Mendis' run-a-ball 51 that held the lower-order performance together, and he now goes into the tournament with some batting form behind him.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando