Sri Lanka scored their second win in successive days in the Coca Cola Champions Trophy match at Sharjah on Saturday. They coasted to victory against Zimbabwe by 7 wickets with three overs to spare which was mainly scripted by skipper Sanath Jayasuriya and the solid Marvan Atapattu.
Sri Lanka made a sluggish start in chasing 226 as Streak dismissed Avishka Gunawardene by bowling him round his legs in the very first over. But Jayasuriya kept scoring in his usual fashion, blasting the bowlers all around the park as Atapattu was finding it hard to middle the ball. Jayasuriya slowed down a bit after reaching his fifty as Atapattu took charge with some of his classy drives and flicks. Nkala dropped a skier from Jayasuriya and Viljoen missed a return catch from Atapattu helping the Sri Lankan chase. These two had put on 157 runs for the second wicket when Jayasuriya pulled one straight to Stuart Carlisle at square leg off Paul Strang. Jayawardene joined Atapattu and the runs kept coming pretty easily until a misunderstanding between the two ceased the hopes of an Atapattu century. Sangakkara joined the party and got some useful batting practice at the centre along with Jayawardene as Sri Lanka coasted home without much pain.
Earlier, Zimbabwe, thanks to a splendid unbeaten 120 by Andy Flower and his unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 153 runs off 26 overs with DP Viljoen (63) made a superb recovery. After being 72 for four, Zimbabwe closed at 225 for four off 50 overs.
Put in to bat, Zimbabwe made a disastrous start. DA Marillier was caught behind by Kaluwitharana off Zoysa for seven. Then a brilliant direct throw by Atapattu ran out Stuart Carlisle for a duck to have Zimbabwe 13 for two.
Flower entered at this stage and he and the other opener MA Vermeulen (22) added 43 runs for the third wicket off 11.3 overs before the latter was out to a great catch by skipper Sanath Jayasuriya at mid off. Vermeulen hit Weeraratne high towards long off but the Lankan skipper ran backwards and then leaped to pluck the ball with his outstretched left hand.
Guy Whittal did not last long, giving Muthiah Muralitharan a low return catch and Zimbabwe were tottering at 72 for four after 24 overs. But that was the last wicket that Sri Lanka took for Flower and Viljoen took charge. First they wrested the initiative and towards the end there was a cascade of runs. Flower, Zimbabwe's highest run getter, duly reached a splendid century and Viljoen hit three sixes in the closing stages to give the scoring rate a tremendous boost. Viljoen who faced 72 balls also hit one boundary. But the chief honours were with Flower. The veteran faced 141 balls and hit eight fours and a six and also grabbed the Man of the Match award for his valiant effort.