Sikandar Raza, Hamilton Masakadza and Tendai Chatara combined to lead Zimbabwe to a 12-run win over Sri Lanka, their first victory against a Full Member at a neutral venue in 15 years. Raza made an unbeaten 81 and took the key wicket of Kusal Perera, who made 80.
He also took two catches, off Angelo Mathews and former Sri Lanka captain Thisara Perera. It was the Thisara catch that finally swung the game Zimbabwe's way. Thisara climbed into Graeme Cremer for 15 runs in the 38th over, after his side slipped to 199 for 6 chasing 291 to win.
Wanindu Hasaranga's dismissal in the 40th over didn't deter him either. Thisara hit Cremer over long-off for his second six before an edge through third man brought the equation down to under a run-a-ball. Akila Dananjaya then holed out at cover, and although replays showed that Tendai Chatara may have marginally overstepped, the third umpire's decision went in favour of Zimbabwe.
Thisara picked singles thereafter but after he had struck a huge six in the 47th over, he struck a low full toss to Raza at deep midwicket. Thisara's exit, after his 37-ball 64 with five fours and three sixes, was the opening Zimbabwe needed as Chatara eked out the last wicket, that of Dushmantha Chameera in the 49th over.
It was Kusal Perera who gave Sri Lanka the early impetus in the chase. He began with cuts and slashes reminiscent of his boyhood hero Sanath Jayasuriya. At the other end, Upul Tharanga survived a scare when the ball hit his leg stump but the bails didn't come off. He chipped a catch to mid-on in the sixth over, and Kusal Mendis, recalled for this tri-series, did the same in the next over.
But Kusal didn't relent with his attacking intent, finishing the Powerplay with a brutal cut over point that went for six.Soon after Kusal reached his fifty, Solomon Mire dropped him at deep point on 57.
Angelo Mathews, who needed some attention for cramps, sprung to life in the 18th over when he smashed Blessing Muzarabani for a six over midwicket, and four through the slips. Kusal kept finding the boundaries too while Zimbabwe found more ways to drop him: Graeme Cremer dropped him off his own bowling in the 24th over with his score on 77.
But finally, Muzarabani used all of his height at short fine leg to pluck out a catch off Kusal on 80. He had struck eight fours and two sixes in his 83-ball innings.
Kusal's exit forced Sri Lanka to slow down. Mathews and Chandimal struck just one boundary in six overs, before Mathews fell in the 31st over. Mathews swatted at a Muzarabani bouncer, but it was brilliantly intercepted by Raza at short midwicket.
Chandimal tried to stay in touch with the required run-rate but Jarvis got one to keep low, which hit his off stump. Asela Gunaratne followed him soon after, deceived by Cremer and stumped by Brendan Taylor.
Openers Masakadza and Solomon Mire had earlier given Zimbabwe a strong start with a 75-run stand. Masakadza blasted Suranga Lakmal for two fours in the first over and Solomon Mire bludgeoned five fours in his 37-ball 34.
After Mire fell in the 13th over, Ervine followed cheaply. Masakadza and Taylor added 57 runs for the third wicket. The well-set Masakadza fell in Gunaratne's first over after making 73 off 83 balls with 10 boundaries. Taylor fell for a 51-ball 38, before Raza and Malcolm Waller added 57 for the fifth wicket. Waller slammed two fours and a six in his 29 off 35 balls.
Raza though lifted Zimbabwe's momentum towards the end, striking Lakmal for five fours in two overs. He added 61 runs for the sixth wicket with Peter Moor off just 6.3 overs. Moor struck two sixes in his 19 before becoming Gunaratne's third victim. Thisara also took two wickets, while the other front-line bowlers couldn't make much of an impact.