SL v Zim, World T20 2012, Group C, Hambantota September 18, 2012

The Mendises script big win for Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka 182 for 4 (Sangakkara 44, Mendis 43*) beat Zimbabwe 100 (Masakadza 20, Ajantha 6-8, Jeevan 3-24) by 82 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Ajantha Mendis marked his return to Sri Lanka's national side by achieving the best figures in T20 internationals. He puzzled and prised out the Zimbabwe batsmen to contribute to a comprehensive victory in the tournament opener.

After Sri Lanka posted an imposing total, Ajantha tore through Zimbabwe. He took three wickets in his first spell to kill off any thoughts of a chase and returned to take three more to end Zimbabwe's limp challenge. Mendis served up deliveries that held their line, those that turned in, the carrom ball and the googly from the back of the hand, leaving Zimbabwe with a sour taste in their mouths and befuddlement in their minds.

Another Mendis, Jeevan, too was major weapon in the home side's armoury. He starred in a 94-run fourth-wicket stand with Kumar Sangakkara and took three wickets. Together, the two Mendises dominated an overawed and outplayed Zimbabwe.

Despite not bowling badly, a shoddy showing in the field and being completely at sea with the bat left Zimbabwe looking like the underdogs they were labelled as. They conceded heavily in the second half of the Sri Lankan innings when Sangakkara and Jeevan asserted their authority over an attack whose spinners held their own while the seamers fell apart.

Kyle Jarvis found swing and bowled an impressive two-over spell upfront, after he loosened up with a full-toss. He should have had an early wicket, too. Debutant Dilshan Munaweera hoicked a delivery to midwicket and Malcolm Waller could only grasp humid air. Jarvis' opening partner, Brian Vitori, suffered the same fate. Tillakaratne Dilshan got a leading edge over Brendan Taylor's head and even though the wicketkeeper moved quickly, he could not get to it in time to take the catch.

Sri Lanka's opening pair flirted with danger twice more in their 54-run stand. Dilshan escaped a run-out when he stole a single to point and Munaweera was dropped a second time by Waller. Along with risk, came reward. Munaweera went on to glance Mpofu's low full-toss to the boundary after Dilshan brought out his scoop to make things worse for the bowler.

Luck finally went Zimbabwe's way in the seventh over when Munaweera was run out, after he dropped his bat in search of a run that was not there. As luck came, it went. Graeme Cremer had Mahela Jayawardene given out lbw of a back-foot no-ball. But, two balls later, Dilshan tried to cut Cremer and was caught behind.

Zimbabwe hauled Sri Lanka in temporarily. The hosts went 27 deliveries without scoring a boundary but Zimbabwe could not build on the pressure they created. Jeevan, who was moved up the order, broke the boundary drought when he drove down the ground off Mpofu, who was too slow to get down in his follow-through. The ball sliced between the long-on and long-off who both tried but failed to cut it off and Zimbabwe's morale had been dented. Jeevan picked Cremer better than his predecessors and hit him for back-to-back fours to bring up the Sri Lankan 100. He also sunk his teeth into Elton Chigumbura who bowled a poor over, giving away the first six of the match.

Zimbabwe unravelled in the last quarter while Sangakkara kept a cool head and collected runs in twos and threes, along with a gorgeous drive over point, which went for four. Their lapses would cost them, as they faced a tall target and Ajantha ensured they were never in a position to reach it.

Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda put on 37 for the first wicket, with Masakadza even having the gumption to take on Lasith Malinga. When Ajantha came on in the seventh over, he ended Zimbabwe's hopes of running their own race of achieving a decent score or ending the match without being bowled out.

A magic box of tricks came from Ajantha's hands: the ball that held its line to bowl Sibanda, the carrom ball that had Brendan Taylor stumped and the googly to bowl Masakadza. With their top three dismissed, Zimbabwe needed fighters but Craig Ervine and Waller succumbed to Jeevan's googly.

After 10 overs, Zimbabwe were 59 for 5 and Ajantha could return to play some more. Zimbabwe reached three-figures but no more, as Mpofu spooned an easy catch to mid-off off Malinga to end the game.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Eranga on September 21, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    I feel very proud whenever a fan of the "worlds best team"(WBT) calls our Sri Lankan team minnows for few reasons.

    once these minnows dismissed the WBT for a pedestrian 54. once the worlds best odi bowling figures 7/30 was against the WBT by a bowler from the Minnows.

    minnows have won a world cup. A batsmen from minnows hit 189 in an ODI and 340 in a test. worlds highest score in a test innings 952 is by minnows against the WBT minnows has the bowler with most number of wickets in tests and ODIs. minnows has the highest totals in every format of the game. we minnows are the only team so far to have two t20 centurians. we have the best bowling figures in ODIs and T20s.

    we have a bowler who has 3 hattricks including the only double hattrick. he is also the only bowler to have two worldcup hattricks and there are more and more to say.

    so don't get annoyed when someone call us minnows. because we have achieved a lot in a very small time and if they still wanna call us minnows let them

  • associate cricket fan on September 20, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    @Narbavi. fastest indian not fastest bowler to take 50 wickets in test. do you know something mendis was the fastest bowler to 50 wickets in ODIs.

  • Prashan on September 20, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    @golgoal, we won the Bangladesh tri series in early 2010! Where were you then? Also we won the Zimbabwe tri series in June 2010 and the Dambulla tri series in August 2010. We have achieved plenty of incredible results and that was why we won the Asia Cup in 2008. What did Bangladesh do in the 2007 50 over world cup???

  • narbavi on September 20, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    @gabrialgihan: i never rated bhajji higher than murali, and its so funny that u guys think that if mendis can pick 6 against aussies in a t20 then he is a better bowler than a guy who has been the fastest indian to pick up 50 test wickets!! That shows it!!

  • narbavi on September 20, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    @Charith De Alwis: Just think if Afghanistan came so close to beating us then surely if your team had played them surely lanka would have lost, how?? Because we all know lanka has been losing to india all the time!!

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Indian fans and cricketers arrogance... What ever said and done abt the SL team we beat Zimbabwe with a 80 odd run lead, while India couldnt even beat Afganisthan with a decent margin. This a minnow team, and the high and mighty world cup winning indians got a shock of their life from the Afgans... Do not diss SL's performance cos we did well... Post all the crap you guys have to say on articles about your team... And all the Indian Commentrators and fans can belittle Ajantha's awesome bowling and the record, but for all SL fans and the rest of the world that was a truly great performance, regardless which ever team they played against... Well done Lions, go full steam ahead, we are with you...

  • harshini on September 20, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    Bring on DRS and atleast try and beat Nepal. I doubt it very much.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    Ummm..few days ago this same AFG team thrashed SL-A which had many of your big players lol (just saying :P )

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    @Pappu_bhai, not just one off day... another off day for Zimbabwe as they keep losing...

  • Sallu on September 20, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    Plz feed us the mystery bowler.We will make him out of SL team for another year. But i believe this is partiality.Why Mendis is not getting the same treatment as Malinga.

    We have destroyed him also still He is in team.So i believe this time even though We destroy the mystery spinner you will not be out of team as SL dont have good replaements.And also SL understand the fact that in Cricket India is far ahead of them.

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