Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka at Harare
19 Dec 1999 (John Ward)

Zimbabwe snatch consolation victory after scares

Zimbabwe finally took their chance to gain a consolation six-wicket victory in the final match of the one-day series against Sri Lanka, although not without the usual alarms and attempts by several batsmen to self-destruct.

On another hot sunny day, Sri Lanka won the toss for the first time in the one-day series and decided to bat on what was expected to be a very good batting pitch. Several changes were made in the teams. Zimbabwe replaced Brandes and Brent with Bryan Strang, for his first one-day game of the series, and Andrew Whittall. Sri Lanka, with the series already won, rested three front-line bowlers in Vaas, Wickramasinghe and Muralitharan, giving opportunities to de Saram, Gallage and Sanjeeva de Silva.

Jayasuriya got the Sri Lankan innings under way with a vengeance, picking up the very first ball bowled by Henry Olonga on his legs and flicking it for a one-bounce four over long leg. The final ball of the over lifted to hit him painfully on the finger, causing a considerable hold-up and in fact it seemed to handicap him for the rest of the match. Kaluwitharana soon announced his presence with a classic cover drive for four off Olonga, but Jayasuriya (6) was to maintain his poor form with the bat to the end. He tried to flick a ball from John Rennie down the leg side and was given out caught at the wicket by umpire Ian Robinson. Once again Rennie had taken the wicket of the Sri Lankan captain.

In the next over, without addition, Zimbabwe struck again, as Kaluwitharana (7) lashed Olonga straight into the hands of Goodwin in the gully, reducing Sri Lanka to 14 for two in the fifth over.

Jayawardene, not intimidated by the loss of the openers, played a fine square drive for four off Olonga. Runs came slowly, though, until he was again able to get Olonga away, this time over square leg for four, in the ninth over, and then cut the next ball wide of third man for another. But when on 17 he fatally drove Rennie straight to mid-on Strang, and Sri Lanka were 36 for three in the tenth over.

Arnold and Atapattu fought back, choosing the gaps well and keeping the score ticking over, but with the Zimbabwean bowlers maintaining a good line there were few four-balls available. Arnold found one from Whittall, though, pulling a short one for four through midwicket, but the bowler took revenge on Atapattu (25), bowling him as he became perhaps a little frustrated and hit across a half-volley. Sri Lanka were 96 for four in the 25th over (Arnold 32).

Arnold, denied his favourite drive by careful Zimbabwe bowling, grew frustrated and Guy Whittall eventually got his man. When on 39 he sparred once too often outside off stump and nudged an easy catch to the keeper. Sri Lanka were 110 for five in the 28th over.

Next to fall was de Saram (7), who lashed out at Guy Whittall and only succeeded in hitting a catch to the sweeper on the cover boundary, Grant Flower, and Sri Lanka were 118 for six in the 32nd over. Chandana showed a willingness to attack anything within reach, and compiled a brisk 17 before driving a hard catch to Andrew Whittall at mid-off off Olonga. Sri Lanka were now 161 for seven in the 38th over.

Dilshan and Gallage could do nothing more than concentrate on ones and twos, but gradually they began to settle in. Dilshan shielded Gallage well, but he finally fell on 53 as he tried to swing Strang over the midwicket boundary and only succeeded in giving a low catch to Carlisle. Sri Lanka were 202 for eight in the 48th over.

Pushpakumara survived only one ball before he tried to swing Strang to leg and only succeeded in skying a catch towards leg slip which was comfortably held by Andy Flower. Then, with the score still on 202, Gallage (14) tried to steal a single to take the strike as de Silva faced Rennie, but smart work by Grant Flower running in from the covers ran him out. For the first time the Sri Lankans had never been able to recover from a difficult batting position, but Zimbabwe still had to get the runs.

Once again Campbell and Grant Flower got Zimbabwe off to a sound start, although once again they were doomed to surrender their wickets without going on to major scores. There was a moment of drama when Campbell swung Gallage hard and high to long leg and the fielder de Saram, in a desperate but vain attempt to save the boundary, crashed full-tilt over the boundary fence and landed among the crowd. He bashed his chin against a deck chair and had to leave the field. Dilshan replaced him at the point where the ball crossed the boundary, only for Campbell to pull the next ball for four to the very position vacated.

Mainly in ones and twos, the batsmen posted Zimbabwe's fourth opening stand in excess of fifty in five matches. When Jayawardene came on to bowl, Flower greeted him with two lofted on-drives off successive deliveries that carried the boundary for six.

Campbell (36) unwisely tried to emulate the stroke when he faced, and only succeeded in skying the ball towards mid-on, where it was taken by Kaluwitharana running round. The openers had put on 94, another good opening stand but still not quite the mammoth score that would put the result beyond doubt.

Carlisle, despite having to face spin as soon as he came in, settled in quickly and, full of confidence, slog-swept Chandana for six over midwicket to bring up the 100, but almost played on and twice nearly ran himself out. Nerves were obviously playing a part as the dreaded spectre of possible victory loomed. Then Flower placed a ball wide of mid-on to record his first fifty since the start of the season.

Despite Carlisle’s indiscretions it was Flower (52) who ran himself out, turning a ball towards fine leg and setting off for a run without noticing it was Jayasuriya, brilliant in that position, there. He was stranded well out of his crease and Zimbabwe were 110 for two in the 23rd over.

Zimbabwe seemed to have a death-wish. No sooner had the openers thrown their wickets away than Carlisle (10) put a ball from Chandana straight down the throat of Dilshan at deep midwicket and Zimbabwe were 111 for three.

Goodwin and Andy Flower set about rebuilding the ruins, but Goodwin had a lucky first boundary when he hit a very catchable pull past square leg. Flower put a full toss from Jayawardene high to the midwicket boundary, but not too far from the deep fielder. Then he ran himself out for 9, risking a single wide of Dilshan at square leg and paying the penalty at the bowler’s end. With Zimbabwe on 128 for four, Sri Lanka were right back in the match and, based on past experience, should have go on to win.

This time, though, it didn’t happen. The Sri Lankan over rate was dismal; 29 overs in two and a half hours as Jayasuriya endlessly changed his field, doubtless determined to add pressure to Zimbabwe's mentally vulnerable batsmen. Jayasuriya, who so often as a bowler has played a vital part in his team’s successes, missed a chance as he spilled a sharp return catch from Guy Whittall when he had only 2 and was struggling, and this proved to be the turning point of the match.

Both batsmen then got their heads down and concentrated on placing the ball for ones and twos, with only four an over required for victory. Slowly they grew closer to their target, although Sri Lanka fought fiercely to the very end. The 200 came up when Whittall hammered Jayasuriya past mid-on to the boundary, and a dabbed single to third man by Goodwin levelled the scores. Finally Whittall swung de Silva wide of mid-on for four, and Zimbabwe had snatched a consolation six-wicket victory with 22 balls to spare, after failing to self-destruct as had looked likely at one stage. The final score was 206 for four (Goodwin 47, Whittall 37).


Date-stamped : 19 Dec1999 - 16:21