Sri Lanka legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay picked up three wickets to help to set up Sri Lanka's six-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the tri-series final, and his dismissals of Craig Ervine and debutant Tarisai Musakanda proved to be the turning point in the match. Vandersay, who last played an ODI series for Sri Lanka in January, said that his side's ability to pick wickets in clusters made the difference against Zimbabwe.
Vandersay snapped the 53-run stand between Ervine and Musakanda when he had the former caught and bowled, and two overs later he had Musakanda caught at slip for a run-a-ball 36 as Sri Lanka asserted their dominance. "It was not only [the two early wickets I took], but the quick sessions we bowled where wickets were falling regularly," Vandersay said. "We kept it going, kept building up the dot balls, and that built pressure."
Under low cloud, on a tacky track, Vandersay finished with three scalps, while Sachith Pathirana took two of his own and Asela Gunaratne's slow-medium off-cutters helped to wrap up the tail. It was as much as Sri Lanka might have hoped for after losing the toss - though had they won it, they would also have batted first.
"We wanted to bowl second, mainly because we thought it was going to spin in the second innings," Vandersay said. "That's what we were thinking. So I'm not surprised Zimbabwe took that decision, batting first."
Vandersay had been picked to play in Sri Lanka's last match against Zimbabwe, but inclement weather meant the game was washed out. Given another chance today, he made the most of helpful conditions to add his name to the list of young Sri Lankans who have excelled on this tour.
"Even the first game that I got with Zimbabwe, when it was rained off, it looked like a turning wicket," he said. "Today, of course we saw so much turn, so it was definitely the right track for me to play on. I'm really happy that we won the series, first of all. Personally, I'm happy that I was able to play today and get a few wickets. It's been a good series.
"Players like Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, even Asela Gunaratne, they've been performing consistently. The younger guys have shown some maturity, and done really well in the series. It is quite a satisfactory feeling for us as a team. We lost Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal before this series, and they're consistent performers. To see our guys putting their hands up and performing well for the team, without some of the seniors being here, is quite satisfying."
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town