Pallekele, March 10: Emerging as a virtual one-man army, Sri Lanka's Tillakarante Dilshan first scored a brisk 144 against Zimbabwe, sharing in a record 282-run stand with Upul Tharanga (133), and then demolished the opposition's middle order to finish with 4/4 in 3 overs. In their chase of Lanka's monstrous 328/7, Zimbabwe couldn't capitalise on a strong century-plus opening stand and crumbled to 188 all out in 39 overs. Opener Brendon Taylor was the lone figure of defiance and resilience for his side with an individual score of 80 from 72 balls.
Zimbabwe's innings commenced on a positive note with Taylor striking the first four in the opening over, which was bowled by Lasith Malinga. Then in the 5th over, Taylor again tucked into Malinga, sending him for two more boundaries. But the batsman was far from through with flaying the attack. He next targeted Nuwan Kulasekara, carting him away for two fours in the 10th over, as Zimbabwe moved top 57/0.
Taylor then dispatched Thisara Perera for a six and a four in the 11th over, shortly after which he survived an lbw review and a dropped catch. The fours kept coming at a steady pace as Zimbabwe crossed 100 in the 17th over. But the other opener - Regis Chakabva - who had done an admirable job weathering the storm till then, was bowled by off-spinner Muttiah Muiralitharan for 35 (off 61 balls) in the 20th over, ending an ominous 116-run stand.
Soon afterward, Lanka's Angelo Mathews struck a double blow, first dismissing Tatenda Taibu for 4 and then sending back the dangerous Taylor for 80. Zimbabwe still looked in a position of relative strength at 137/3 in 25 overs. But that's when their batting began to erode.
In the 28th over, Dilshan had Prosper Utseya stumped for 4, before returning in the 30th over, to get Criag Ervine lbw for 17 and Greg Lamb caught at slip for nought. At that stage, Zimbabwe were tottering at 156./6 in 30 overs. Captain Elton Chigumbura was the next to depart, getting caught for 6 at the deep square-leg boundary, off Muralitharan.
Then Ray Price struck a couple of meaty fours and attempted a third such shot when he was caught at square leg for 11, off the bowling of Perera. Dilshan removed Tinashe Panyangara for a duck while one over later Muralitharan took care of Chris Mpofu for 1. Zimbabwe were all out for 188 in 39 overs, thus losing the match by 139 runs.