Chaminda Vaas starts LG Abans tri-series with record-breaking bonanza
In was nightmare for the sponsors, but a dream for Colombo's police authorities, who were reportedly in a quandary as to whether to impose another post-election city-wide curfew in the afternoon, as Chaminda Vaas ensured the first game of the LG Abans triangular ODI series was the shortest ever One-Day International.
By midday, after just two hours, Sri Lanka had wrapped up a nine-wicket win having bowled out Zimbabwe for just 38, the lowest ever total in ODI cricket, surpassing the 43 scored by Pakistan against West Indies at Cape Town in 1992/3. They then knocked off the required runs in just 4.2 overs.
For the second time in the week, it was Vaas who created the mayhem, as Zimbabwe's shocked batsmen wandered across their stumps like rabbits caught full-beam. The 27-year-old left-armer took the first eight wickets to fall and looked to be heading for all ten before Muttiah Muralitharan took two wickets in four balls to finish off the innings.
His eight for 19 was the best ever bowling analysis in one-day cricket's 31-year history, surpassing the seven for 30 taken by Muralitharan last year against India at Sharjah.
Vaas bowled well with the new white ball, which does swing more than the red one, and Sri Lanka had won a good toss in the morning on a greasy Sinhalese Sports Club pitch, but there could be no proper explanation for such a miserly total. This was no minefield and Vaas has bowled better for less reward - in fact he probably swung the ball more prodigiously in his last Test match.
But Vaas still deserves great credit for record-breaking spell, which would have pleased no one more than his wife who was celebrating her birthday alone at home today. Vaas has worked extremely hard during the past year, both on his fitness and skills. Coach Dav Whatmore praised his "focused attitude to training" and believed that "performances like this don't happen by accident." His performance was a victory for the humble hard-working medium pacer, who success depends on the twin virtues of accuracy and movement. Today he was spot on.
Zimbabwean captain, Stuart Carlisle, called it a "freak result" and hoped that his side could quickly flush today's disturbing events out of their system tomorrow, when they take on the West Indies. But the tourists will be concerned that they struggled so much against the swinging ball; a weakness that cost them both practice matches against young Sri Lankan board XI's.
Vaas started his wicket-taking spree with the first delivery of the match; a full-length inswinger that curved onto the toe of opener Dion Ebrahim.
Stuart Carlisle then added 11 runs for the second wicket with Grant Flower - a noteworthy partnership in the context - before Vaas severely dented Zimbabwean hopes by dismissing both Flower brothers in his third over: Grant (1) was bowled and Andy (0) was caught behind for a second-ball duck (11 for three).
Carlisle added a couple of boundaries with Craig Wishart in 25 minute stand, but Vaas's sixth over singled the start of the end as the last seven wickets fell for just 11 runs.
Nuwan Zoysa has taken a Test hat-trick but no Sri Lankan had taken a one-day hat-trick till today, when Vaas had Carlisle (16), trying to be positive, caught at third man, Wishart (6) and Tatrenda Taibu (0) trapped lbw with sharply swinging induckers (27 for six).
Heath Streak (0) was dismissed in a similar manner and Mluleki Nkala (1) edged to Sangakkara behind the stumps (32 for eight).
Sanath Jayasuriya then called up Muralitharan and the off-spinner zipped his third ball through the defenses of Travis Friend (4) and had last man, Henry Olonga, caught at slip next ball.
Sri Lanka started badly, losing Avishka Gunawardene in the first over, but still cruised to victory as Marvan Atapattu stroked four fours in his 16-ball 23 not out and Jayasuriya walloped 13 from seven balls.
Zimbabwe now will play West Indies tomorrow and they will take some heart from the fact that the West Indies tour slipped further into disarray last night when their premier fast bowler, who would have been a real handful on this SSC pitch, was sent home for disciplinary reasons.