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November 22, 2008
It has not been a particularly encouraging day for cricket's minnows. First Bangladesh were routed by an innings-and-129 runs in Bloemfontein while, in Harare, Zimbabwe capitulated to their fourth-lowest ODI score of 67 against a clinical Sri Lanka who, with depressing inevitability, are heading for a 5-0 series win.
It was Zimbabwe's second collapse in three days. They lost their last seven wickets for three runs in the first ODI, and showed no sign of improving today as Ajantha Mendis took 4 for 15, taking his series-tally to seven.
Farveez Maharoof's three early wickets helped reduce Zimbabwe to 34 for 4, a position from which they were ill-equipped to recover, particularly with Muttiah Muralitharan and Mendis yet to bowl. Tatenda Taibu, playing in his 100th ODI, dropped anchor in an attempt to stabilise a listing ship, but he became Mendis's first victim when he misread a straighter delivery which shot through his defence. That he top-scored with 12 tells the sorriest of tales.
Elton Chigumbura lasted 27 balls before he too was beaten by Mendis's clever arm-ball. At 48 for 6, Zimbabwe were sliding fast, and Thilan Thushara grabbed two wickets to ensure there were no tail-end frolics. Mendis wrapped things up with his fourth wicket, that of Sean Williams, the returning allrounder, as Zimbabwe crashed to their fourth-lowest total in one-dayers.
Sri Lanka took their time chasing 68, and Zimbabwe's bowlers did their best to gloss an otherwise dismal performance. After eight overs they had Sri Lanka 20 for 1 - Mahela Udawatte drove loosely at a fine outswinger from the economical Tawanda Mupariwa - but, that small blemish aside, Sri Lanka cruised home. Kumar Sangakkara carved five crunching fours in his unbeaten 28 - three in one over off Chigumbura - and was well supported by Upal Tharanga's 29.
To compound Zimbabwe's depression, an ICC fact-finding delegation are currently in Harare to assess their suitability for returning to Test cricket. On the evidence of the first two matches, they are barely fit to play ODIs.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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