|Scorecard:||Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka|
The humiliation of the new Zimbabwe team was complete as Sri Lanka bowled them out for a record low of 35 in the third one-day international at Harare Sports Club, winning the match 70 minutes before lunch by nine wickets. The pitch and conditions were in favour of seam and swing bowling, but the inexperienced Zimbabwean batsmen were completely at a loss in how to handle the pace of seamers Vaas, Fernando and Maharoof.
For the third time Marvan Atapattu won the toss and put Zimbabwe in to bat. No doubt he was again expecting early help from the pitch, more likely as Zimbabwe is now a month past the equinox, but each insertion makes it more likely that many of his players will be unable to have a good bat out there in the middle.
Sri Lanka showed what they thought of the new Zimbabwe team, resting three regulars in Upal Chandana, Nuwan Zoysa and even Muttiah Muralitharan, and giving games to paceman Dilhara Fernando, left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and batsman Farveez Maharoof, the last two both making their one-day debuts. The public also showed their lack of interest, with scarcely 100 spectators present at the start of the match.
Zimbabwe played the same team, but dropped the runless Vusi Sibanda down the order and sent in Stuart Matsikenyeri to open in his place. Matsikenyeri and Brendan Taylor were tested by two fine opening overs from Chaminda Vaas and Fernando, and the first runs did not come until the third over, when Matsikenyeri put Vaas away backward of point for four. It was Zimbabwe’s best start of the series – after opening stands of 1 and 0 in Bulawayo.
It was too good to last. With only a wide added, Taylor pushed a ball from Fernando on the leg side, was indecisive in his calling, Matsikenyeri backed up too far and was run out by a superb direct hit from Herath at square leg. Later in the over Taylor got off the mark with a tentative cut that flew through the upstretched hands of second slip to the boundary. In Vaas’s next over, another possible run-out was avoided as the throw missed the stumps, and then umpire Darryl Harper turned down what looked like the most plumb of lbws against Taylor.
Once again, it was too good to last. Fernando, who had been pitching too short, now decided to pitch it up and allow it to wing, with disastrous results for Zimbabwe. Dion Ebrahim (7) drove at a ball that swung away and edged the ball to the keeper, and then Tatenda Taibu, who had held the innings together in both Bulawayo matches, was beaten and trapped lbw first ball. Elton Chigumbura survived the hat-trick ball, but with the score still stuck on 18 Taylor (4) tried to turn a ball from Vaas to leg and popped up a catch in a tangle of bat and pad to a diving short leg.
Alester Maregwede took a leg-bye, and then the collapse continued with Chigumbura (0) driving over a full-length ball from Vaas to be comprehensively bowled middle stump. The bowling was excellent and the conditions were helping them, and Zimbabwe’s grossly inexperienced players were totally out of their depth. Zimbabwe were 19 for five in the ninth over.
Briefly Alester Maregwede and Vusi Sibanda hung on, mainly by grim defence and the odd flash. Maregwede was there 21 minutes for 2 before he aimed to drive Vaas through the covers with a faulty technique and dragged the ball on to his stumps; 27 for six.
Farveez Maharoof took over from Fernando and took the wicket of Sibanda (4) with his fourth ball, the batsman driving a ball straight at backward point. Prosper Utseya was trapped lbw by Vaas without scoring, and Zimbabwe were now 28 for eight. Mluleki Nkala and Douglas Hondo, two of the most experienced players, comparatively speaking, dig in and then began to bat positively, and Zimbabwe had hopes of passing the 36 by Canada in the last World Cup, the lowest ODI total ever recorded.
But on 35 it all came to an end. Hondo (4) edged a catch off Maharoof to the wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara, and two balls later a lifter took Tinashe Panyangara’s glove and Sangakkara took another catch, a good one above his head, to bring the sorry procession to an end. Vaas had four for 11, Fernando three for 18 and Maharoof three for 3.
Zimbabwe may be low on talent, lower on technique and lowest on experience, but at least they are right at the top on enthusiasm. Douglas Hondo and Tinashe Panyangara put all they had into their bowling, backed by keen fielding, and Sri Lanka had to apply themselves very carefully. This time Russel Arnold opened the batting with Sanath Jayantha, and looked most uncomfortable against fine bowling by Hondo in particular. He had just 6 runs to his credit when he edged a ball moving away from him to the keeper, which Taibu took low to his right.
Mahela Jayawardene also struggled as he came in next, but finally Jayantha decided he had had enough. He lashed Panyangara, bowling the tenth over, through the covers for four and then swung the next ball over fine leg for six to take Sri Lanka to 40 and a nine-wicket victory. It was totally clear that for Zimbabwe to remain credible in international cricket, the authorities needed an agreement with their ‘rebel’ players.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)