Hambantota: Zimbabwe beat Sri Lanka by 3 wickets in the fifth ODI to create history. Chasing the victory target of 204, Zimbabwe achieved it with more than 11 overs to spare on Monday at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota on Monday.
The victory is special for Zimbabwe as it their first series win against a Test playing nation since 2013. This is also their first away series win in 8 years, their first series win against Sri Lanka.
Chasing a target of 204, the visitors began the chase pretty well after Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire put on 92 for the first wicket before Mire was cleaned up by Gunaratane for 43.
Though Sri Lanka got the breakthrough, Masakadza continued with his scoring rate and went on compiled another half-century.
The visitors looked steady in their chase but lost the plot in between only to get reduced to 6/172.
Lasith Malinga in the process showed glimpses of excellence as he returned with figures of 2/44 but it was another spinner Akila Dananjaya who produced a magnificent spell of bowling to scalp four wickets during the course.
Sikandar Raza on the other side looked solid but kept running out of partners till Graeme Creamer who came in at number 9 held on to the innings. Raza along with Creamer scored an unbeaten partnership of 29 runs to guide their side over the line.
Earlier, the host managed to score 203 for 8 after riding on a brilliant half-century by Gunaratne.
After winning the toss, Graeme Cremer decided to bowl first and his troops didn’t even disappoint their skipper.
In-form Nirosha Dickwella was the first batsman who was sent back in the hut for 3 by Chatara after he edged a good length delivery to give a straight forward catch to Peter Moor behind the stumps. Earlier, Cremer experimented with the bowling as he asked Sikandar Raza to bowl the first over.
Raza didn’t waste much time to respond in a positive manner as scalped Mendis who tried to play the ball through on-side but only managed to chip it in the air to give a sitter to Cremer at midwicket in the fifth over while he cleaned Upul Tharanga in 9th. Sikandar Raza eventually returned with figures of 3/21 in 10 overs.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews and Gunathilaka did try to provide the home side with some resistance but they were soon reduced to 4/78 after Mathews departed for 24.
Gunathilaka though, went on to score yet another half-century of the series.
The Angelo Mathews-led side kept on losing wickets at regular intervals but Gunaratne’s half-century in the end added some crucial runs to their total.
Sri Lanka - 203 for 8 (Gunaratne 59*, Gunathilaka 52, Raza 3-21, Cremer 2-23)
Zimbabwe - 204 for 7 (Masakadza 73, Dananjaya 4-47, Malinga 2-44)
Result - Zimbabwe won by 3 wickets