Zimbabwe bite the dust again

SRI LANKA A completed a three-nil win against hosts Zimbabwe Select after winning the final one-day match at Harare Sports Club yesterday by 31 runs.


The tourists won the toss and opted to bat first, starting solidly but fizzling

out at the death to post 264 runs in 49,4 overs.


Zimbabwe Select also shared a similar fate: taking off sprightly but falling short to post 233 in 47,4 overs and lose a game that was in essence much easier to win.


Sri Lanka A openers Mahela Udawatta and Dilruwan Perera made fodder of Gary Brent’s bowling, slashing and driving to the boundary as the visitors took off to a fiery start.


Brent’s first two overs went for 19 runs and captain Prosper Utseya called upon Blessing Mahwire to do some damage control from the city end while Elton Chigumbura kept things tight from the opposite end.


But Perera ruffled Chigumbura’s feathers a bit in the seventh over, driving his second ball to the boundary through midwicket and edging the next over Tatenda Taibu for another before clipping the last to get 12 off the over.


Mahwire fared no better as Udawatta lofted his first delivery over extra cover for a hop and a skip four. And Perera lashed Chigumbura past fine leg for four before pulling the next for maximum points as the plunder continued unabated going at six runs an over in the first 10 overs.


Brent returned for his second spell and redeemed himself getting Zimbabwe Select’s breakthrough in the 10th over after Udawatta skyed a full toss for an easy catch to Chamunorwa Chibhabha at mid-wicket, and it was 74 for one.


Sri Lanka A added 10 runs in four overs before Brent struck again, claiming the prize wicket of the free-hitting Perera, who clobbered seven fours and a six in a 48-run knock, when he induced a faint edge and Taibu collected to make it 84 for two in the 14th over.


Utseya took the ball in the 15th over and was given a baptism of fire. Fellow skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan raced the first ball to the picket and heaved the other for six to get off the mark in style.


Utseya did not return for a second beating just then, rightly passing the ball on to seamer Tawanda Mupariwa after his opening over had gone for 16 runs. But Dilshan whipped him for six over the covers as runs came by the dozen.


However Chigumbura came right for the hosts when Vusimuzi Sibanda took a blistering catch at mid-on to dismiss the feisty Dilshan for 31 runs. And not to be out-done, Taibu stretched full-length to scoop Warnapura just inches off the ground as Chigumbura pounced by the double.


Chibhabha took a breathtaking diving catch at deep square leg to remove Chamara Kapugedara for Mupariwa’s first wicket as the tourists flattered to 170 for five in the middle, after a promising start.


Sibanda took another scorcher at mid-on for Utseya’s first scalp as catches became the order of the day. Wanton slogging at the death by the Sri Lanka A batsmen played into the hands of the home side as Brent took two quick wickets — both catches. Chibhabha clipped off Rangana Herath’s leg stump going for a wild swing and uprooted Akalanka Ganegama’s middle stump also going for the same shot as the tourist closed on 264.


Chasing 265 for victory, Zimbabwe Select started off cautiously with Sibanda taking the aggressor’s role while Taylor was content with anchoring the innings.


Amarasinghe bowled short and was scuttled to the boundary as Sibanda got to 46 with Taylor still on 12. The hosts were looking good at six runs an over. But Taylor lost his cool, slicing Prasad uppishly for a catch at gully to bring the in-form Chibhabha to the crease.


At the other end, Sibanda went about his business meticulously, stealing a single off Amarasinghe to get to 50. Together with Chibhabha, the two chalked up an 87-run partnership for the third wicket to see Zimbabwe Select past the 100 mark.


The pair ran well between the wickets to keep the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos. A few blows to the boundary saw Sibanda edging closer to a hundred and Chibhabha closing in on a 50. Sibanda never did get his ton, a rush of blood getting the better of him after he needlessly lashed out at Dilshan and was taken in the slips to leave Zimbabwe Select on 148 for three.


Chibhabha soldiered on to get his second half ton of the series and, for the second time, he had Taibu as his partner. But Taibu was stumped cheaply to usher in Stuart Matsikenyeri batting at number five with Zimbabwe Select on 177. Chibhabha was run out going for a quick single: accounted for by a direct hit from mid-wicket. — www.zimcricket.org