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Sri Lanka complete victory by a massive margin

Zimbabwe batted better in their second innings at Bulawayo, but could not prevent Sri Lanka sweeping the series 2-0, with a crushing victory by an innings and 254 runs

Wisden Cricinfo staff
Sri Lanka 713 for 3 dec beat Zimbabwe 228 and 231 (Taylor 61, Muralitharan 4-79) by an innings and 254 runs
Zimbabwe, hopelessly weakened by the loss of the 15 rebel players, on top of the 20-odd others who have walked out on Zimbabwean cricket in the last four years, went down fighting at Bulawayo, but they lost by a larger margin - an innings and 254 runs - than they had at Harare, which was already a record ... and they only took three Sri Lankan wickets in the match. For an encore, they will face Australia in a Test match later in the week.
Sri Lanka's bowling was adequate but uninspired, with Muttiah Muralitharan still suffering with his bruised finger, but the batsmen applied themselves better than in the first innings. But, once Sri Lanka broke through, three wickets fell in quick succession, and from then on it was only a matter of time. Tatenda Taibu had clearly decided that his team would go down fighting. A rather loose opening over from Farveez Maharoof brought a wide and two twos to Brendan Taylor. Then Dion Ebrahim off-drove Chaminda Vaas for four and nudged him to the third-man boundary from successive balls.
The strokes continued, although both batsmen got away with aerial strokes, intentional or otherwise, that evaded the fielders. Taylor reached his first Test half-century from 110 balls, impressing with front-foot drives through the covers and wide of mid-on. He battled through a quiet patch after reaching his fifty, but then on-drove two handsome boundaries off Sanath Jayasuriya. Earlier he had survived a difficult bat-pad chance off Murali, and a confident appeal for a catch behind off Jayasuriya which was turned down - an excellent decision by Rudi Koertzen.
Taylor's luck ran out on 61, though, as he was snapped up at bat-pad off Murali (125 for 3). His stand of 85 with Ebrahim was Zimbabwe's highest of the series, by some way.
Two balls later there was a similar appeal for bat-pad against Taibu, which Billy Bowden turned down. This time the umpire was probably wrong, but it was a very difficult one. In Murali's next over, though, there was no doubt when Taibu, who still hadn't scored, was snapped up at short leg (127 for 4).
Alester Maregwede began by driving his second ball, a half-volley from Muralitharan, through extra cover for four, and then swung him over midwicket for another boundary. He lost Ebrahim, though, who flicked Jayasuriya round the corner but straight to Atapattu at leg slip, who made no mistake (143 for 5). Ebrahim had batted gallantly for 42 and was clearly sickened to be dismissed. He will have quite a while to reflect on his dismissal, as an unguarded comment about Murali's bowling action has landed him with a one-Test ban.
Maregwede still had his eye on Murali, hitting him for six with a spectacular slog-sweep, as if determined to go down with all guns blazing. His belligerence, coupled with the fighting spirit of Taylor and Ebrahim, made this one of the more watchable mornings of a forgettable series.
After lunch there was a brief flurry of runs, but it was too frenetic to last. Three wickets fell at 173, two of them unfortunately borderline lbw decisions, Maregwede for 28 off 32 balls to Vaas, and Elton Chigumbura for 12 to Muralitharan.
The final blaze, though, came from Tinashe Panyangara, who threw the bat with glorious abandon, driving powerfully straight and mowing through midwicket, to make the cricket interesting and enjoyable, even if hardly competitive. Finally Douglas Hondo, trying to get in on the act himself, skyed a sweep, leaving Panyangara with 40 not out from 45 balls, with six uncompromising fours.
Sri Lanka finished their tour having won both Tests and all five one-dayers - and, given the quality of the opposition, it would have been a major shock if they had not. The new Zimbabwe team was totally crushed in statistics, though not in spirit, and they can at least take hope for the future in the promise shown by Taylor and Panyangara.