Tharanga, Mendis steer Sri Lanka to title

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe,  CMC – Half-centuries from Upul Tharanga and Kusal Mendis lifted Sri Lanka to a comfortable six-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the final of the Tri-Nations Series here yesterday.

Playing at Queens Sports Club, Tharanga and Mendis both hit a joint top score of 57 as the Sri Lankans easily chased down a mediocre target of 161 in the 38th over.

Upul Tharanga stroked 57 not out to see Sri-Lanka to victory over Zimbwbe
Upul Tharanga stroked 57 not out to see Sri-Lanka to victory over Zimbwbe

They were precariously poised at 42 for three in the seventh over when left-arm seamer Brian Vitori, in his first game of the tournament, knocked over Dhananjaya de Silva (0), Niroshan Dickwella (16) and Kusal Perera (14) in quick succession.

However, Tharanga then anchored two key partnerships, putting on 75 for the fourth wicket with Mendis before adding a further 49 in an unbroken fifth wicket stand with Asela Gunaratne who was unbeaten on 16 at the end.

Tharanga’s unbeaten 57 came from 98 deliveries and included six fours and a six while Mendis faced 72 balls and counted ten fours.

20161128scoreboard-1Zimbabwe, who beat West Indies on Friday to book their place in the final, had earlier been bundled out for 160 off 36.3 overs, with Tarisai Musakanda top-scoring with 36 from 37 balls and Sean Williams getting a patient 35.

Right-armer Gunaratne (3-10) and leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay (3-50) claimed three wickets apiece to hurt the innings, while left-arm spinner Sachith Pathirana chimed in with two for 26.

Openers Peter Moor (1) and Hamilton Masakadza (10) both perished cheaply to leave the hosts struggling on 19 for two before Musakanda and Craig Ervine (25) put on 53 for the third wicket to stabilize the innings.

But once the stand was broken, the innings went into terminal decline as the last seven wickets tumbled for 75 runs.

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