Harare: A dominant Sri Lanka came to within a freak run-out of whitewashing Zimbabwe in the final of the tri-nations tournament at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday.
The Sri Lankans scored a leisurely 203-1 in 34.4 overs to win with ease in reply to Zimbabwe's effort of 199 all out in 49 overs. The run-out stood between Sri Lanka bowling out the entire Zimbabwe team and then overtaking their target score without the loss of a single wicket.
Although Zimbabwe's Brendan Taylor was named man of the series afterwards it was Tillikeratne Dilshan who stole the day. He was named man of the match after amassing 108 not out, both for his score and for his captaincy, with his 100 coming up in 97 balls and including 13 boundaries.
It was Dilshan's seventh one-day international century and his first against Zimbabwe. "I was really elated, both for the 100 and for our series victory to take home after a hard time abroad," he said.
We brought several youngsters with us for experience and they certainly benefitted. It was all well worthwhile.
The run-out came with the score on 160 - Sri Lanka's highest opening partnership against Zimbabwe in internationals. Dilshan went for a quick single to Graeme Cremer at point, but when his wicket was about to be broken he kept going and fellow opener Upul Tharanga moved forward from the other end to sacrifice his wicket.
Tharanga produced another of his speciality supporting roles with 72 runs. The match was killed as a potential spectacle after just a few overs of the Zimbabwe innings.
The home team prodded their way to 15-1 in seven overs and to 40-2 in 15. By comparison, Sri Lanka were 46-0 in seven and 88-0 in 15. Tatenda Taibu was initially a culprit with only four runs from his first 22 balls faced, but he redeemed himself by becoming easily Zimbabwe's top scorer with 71.
Their meagre 199 runs was soon overwhelmed by Dilshan and Tharanga, who gobbled up the Zimbabwe bowling with ease, if not quite disdain. Wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor said at the presentations: "We actually worked very hard just to get here. Everybody did well in the series and we expect to move forward step by step from here."
Home team captain Elton Chigumbura said: "We were put under pressure right from the start and just couldn't get going early on. But we take a lot of pluses from the last two weeks."
India, the other team in the Tri-nation series, will play Zimbabwe in two Twenty20 matches this weekend and on Thursday a game has been arranged for them against Zimbabwe A.
Zimbabwe 199 (Taibu 71, Fernando 3-36)
Sri Lanka 203 for 1 (Dilshan 108*, Tharanga 72)
Result Sri Lanka won by nine wickets
MOM Tillakaratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka)
Player of the series Brendan Taylor (Zimbabwe)