Zimbabwe were bundled out for 70 in the final ODI against Sri Lanka in Pallekele as the hosts held on for a series win.
Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka’s fifties, combined with Jeffrey Vandersay’s brilliant 4/10 gave Sri Lanka a resounding 184-run win in the final ODI against Zimbabwe in Pallekele. Zimbabwe had initially arrived in the final ODI on the back of a superb win in the second. In 2017, Zimbabwe had won a five-match series against Sri Lanka 3-2. But, in this match, Sri Lanka put on their finest show. Jolted by the performance in the second ODI, the hosts came out all guns blazing.
Sri Lanka chose to bat on a pitch that was going to get slower. Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis started the onslaught with some blazing hits. Zimbabwe missed the run-out of Nissanka and he made them pay. The batter responded with four boundaries in two overs to propel Sri Lanka. Kusal Mendis also gave him company with some good fours of Richard Ngarava. The partnership went past fifty but just as Kusal Mendis neared a fifty, he was sent back by Wellington Masakadza for 36.
Nissanka notched up his second fifty but he suffered a lapse in concentration. Wesley Madhevere pounced on that and ran out Nissanka with a direct hit for 55. Kamindu Mendis departed cheaply but Charith Asalanka was in fine form. He rotated the strike and kept the scoreboard ticking despite wickets falling at the other end. Asalanka and Dinesh Chandimal looked good with a solid stand but Chandimal was sent back by Sean Williams for 17.
Asalanka neared his fifty with two fours off Sikandar Raza. When Sri Lanka lost Dasun Shanaka, they were well off their estimated target of 270-300. With the wicket slowing down, they needed quick runs. Asalanka notched up his fifth ODI fifty but he became Tendai Chatara’s 100th ODI wicket. The bowler became the fastest to 100 wickets by a Zimbabwean, achieving it in just 76 matches.
Ramesh Mendis and Chamika Karunaratne then stitched a 39-run stand that took Sri Lanka near 250. In the death overs, Sri Lanka scored at under six runs an over but the wicket was starting to become difficult for strokeplay.
Dushmantha Chameera started the rot when he sent back Regis Chakabva and Craig Ervine cheaply. Having missed out on the hat-trick, Sri Lanka was now on top of their game. Maheesh Theekshana then sent back Sean Williams to leave Zimbabwe reeling. Takudzhwane Kaitano kept the fight going and was the only batsman to reach double figures. But, when he was stumped off Jeffrey Vandersay for 19, Zimbabwe collapsed.
Chamika Karunaratne sent back Sikandar Raza for 1 and Zimbabwe were 33/5. Ramesh Mendis sent back Milton Shumba for 9 and Sri Lanka was now running through the batting. Ramesh Mendis took his second wicket and Vandersay wrapped things up quickly. He sent back Blessing Muzarabani, Ryan Burl, and Richard Ngarava to end with 4/10 from 7.2 overs.
Sri Lanka will now head to India for two Tests and three T20Is in February. This will be their first Test tour to India since 2017.