Lankans scrape home.

Wednesday, September 15 2004

An unconvincing performance saw Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe by 4 wickets at The Oval.

After winning the toss and putting their opposition into bat, things started well for the Sri Lankan side, as Nuwan Zoysa, Chaminda Vaas and Farveez Maharoof reduced their young opposition to 85-6 in the 27th over, none of the top order making more than Mark Vermeulen's 17.

At this point, it looked an early finish for the game, and Sri Lanka were odds on to secure a faster win than England did against Zimbabwe, and with it top spot in the group in the event of a wash-out in the group decider.

18 year-old Elton Chigumbura had other ideas though, and with the stout support of Tinashe Panyangara, he added 35 runs in 12 overs that helped add a little respectability to the score.

That was then built upon by an exciting stand for the 8th wicket between Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya. The pair put on 64 runs in only 56 balls before Utseya was finally removed for a super cameo of 31 from 28 balls.

The innings then somewhat fell apart, as the last 3 wickets fell in an over, Chigumbura being 9th out for a well-crafted 57.

Zoysa's bowling had been superb, giving up only 14 runs from the bat in his 10 overs and collecting 3 scalps, but he had been used up by the end, and that allowed the total of 191 to be a few more than it should have been.

Indeed, Sri Lanka then had to get the runs at almost 7 an over to overhaul England's 3.04 Run Rate. They would've been better suited just ensuring they got them, as Zimbabwe reduced them to 10-2 in the 3rd over, and at both 54-3 and 99-4 they really looked like there was a possibility that they could secure a shock win. Captain Marvan Atapattu had other ideas though, and he batted 80 balls for his 43 before becoming Chigumbura's 2nd victim, but by then the side were up to 141 and had 18 overs left to get 51 more.

Chigumbura hadn't finished, but by the time he removed Mahela Jayawardene, the match was all but out of sight, and he was unfortunate enough to be hit for 3 consecutive boundaries by Upal Chandana, the last of which being the only six of the match, as Sri Lanka won with 37 balls to spare, hardly convincing, and a result that will give England confidence going into the decider later this week.

No doubts as to the man of the match though. With 57 runs, 3 wickets (and at one point he'd got 3-21 from 8 overs) and a catch, Elton Chigumbura has provided a bright spot for Zimbabwe, and if he can continue to perform like this, they're now only 9 players short of a team.

Chigumbura 57(71), Utseya 31(28), Zoysa 3-19(10), Maharoof 3-38(9)
Atapattu 43(80), Jayantha 36(41), Chigumbura 3-37(8.5)

Posted by Marc