'We are a far better side than how we performed'
by Asher Wilson
DateLine: 20th September 2012
2012 ICC World Twenty20
Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe
Sri Lanka began their 2012 T20 World Cup campaign on a spectacular note as Ajantha Mendis celebrated his comeback to the international cricket by spinning a web around the Zimbabwean batsmen to claim six wickets and help his team register 82-run win in the opening match on Tuesday.
Having lost the toss and been put into bat by Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka started strongly in their innings but endured a minor wobble in the middle as they were reduced to 82-3 when Dilshan Munaweera was run out for 17 in the seventh over. Mahela Jayawardene was then handed a reprieve when he was given out lbw only for the decision to be chalked-off due to a back-foot no-ball by bowler Graeme Cremer. However, three balls later, Cremer came back to claim the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan with a quick ball. Jayawardene was then run out two overs later as the host team briefly lost the momentum and raised Zimbabwe hopes before Kumar Sangakkara (44) and Jeevan Mendis (43) (the mainstay of the innings) steered them to a massive 182-4.
In reply, Zimbabwe were quickly reduced to 43 for 3 with captain Taylor dismissed for a first-ball duck. Opening batsman Hamilton Masakadza top-scored with 20 but after that things went downhill, with only four other batsmen creeping into double figures. Jeevan Mendis (3-24) claimed the scalps of Craig Ervine (10) and Malcolm Waller (0) in the same over before Zimbabwe finally capitulated in the 18th over when Lasith Malinga removed Chris Mpofu for a duck.
That score always looked like being a tough ask for Zimbabwe to chase down. The spinner Ajantha Mendis was awarded with Man of the match having been the key weapon in the Sri Lankan attack who ran through Zimbabwe's unconvincing batting order, claiming six wickets for just eight runs, includng two maidens, as Zimbabwe crumbled under the floodlights and could only reach a total of 100 runs. Mendis, returning to the side following nine months out due to a back injury, bowled with his usual control and tantalizing length to surpass his own Twenty20 record figures of 6 for 16 against Australia in 2011.
Although Zimbabwe managed three run outs, they paid a heavy price for their poor catching and ground fielding along with a lack of discipline by their bowlers. Zimbabwe skipper Taylor was naturally disappointed to fall to such a convincing defeat in the opening game. He told Sky Sports 1: "We are a far better side than how we performed today but it was tough. We have to bounce back strongly. There's no excuse for it.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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