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Sri Lanka continued their triumphant home season with an easy win in this triangular tournament. Their opponents were West Indies, whom they had just whitewashed in a three-Test series, and Zimbabwe, who would soon meet the same fate. Sri Lanka got off to a flying start with an astonishing win that set a clutch of one-day international records. The left-arm swing bowler Chaminda Vaas became the first player to take eight wickets in an innings, Zimbabwe's total of 38 was the lowest ever, and the match was the shortest, completed in just 20 overs.
Yet when Zimbabwe beat West Indies the next day and West Indies upset Sri Lanka, the teams were separated only by the bonus point from that remarkable opener. Sri Lanka swiftly re-established control, winning all their remaining matches, including the final against West Indies, by convincing margins.
Their all-round depth was crucial. They scored at more than five an over, but conceded only 3.68. Mahela Jayawardene led the batting, with 265 runs in his last three innings, but their strength was exemplified by the captain, Sanath Jayasuriya, who was named Man of the Series for 194 runs at a strike-rate of 90, and eight wickets at less than 21. Strangely, Vaas did not pick up a wicket after the first match. The spin attack took over, with Muttiah Muralitharan, who claimed ten victims, the leading bowler.
The West Indians had lost five players to a combination of injury, family bereavement and disciplinary matters, and their best batsman, Brian Lara, joined the list when he fractured his elbow in an accident during their third match. West Indies' form remained inconsistent. Only the opener Daren Ganga, who fell four times in the 50s, could be relied on. Chris Gayle found his touch in the last two matches, when his powerful strokeplay showed what might have been. The captain, Carl Hooper, bore even heavier responsibility than usual, but could not compensate for the team's inexperience.
Zimbabwe's fielding was one of the features of the tournament, not least in their solitary victory over West Indies, when they bounced back from their humiliation by Sri Lanka. But their batting broke down too frequently for them to mount a serious challenge. Only Heath Streak, at No. 8, reached 50; he was also their best bowler, with seven wickets.
Match reports for
1st Match: Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe at Colombo (SSC), Dec 8, 2001
2nd Match: West Indies v Zimbabwe at Colombo (SSC), Dec 9, 2001
3rd Match: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (RPS), Dec 11, 2001
4th Match: Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe at Colombo (RPS), Dec 12, 2001
5th Match: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Kandy, Dec 15, 2001
6th Match: West Indies v Zimbabwe at Kandy, Dec 16, 2001
Final: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (RPS), Dec 19, 2001