Zimbabwe cricket captain Craig Ervine has heaped praises on his teammates after they showed character by bouncing back from a five wicket loss in the first match to beat Sri Lanka by 22 runs and level the three-match ODI series in Kandy on Tuesday.
Ervine led from the front as he put up a man of the match performance with the bat, falling nine runs short of a century while Sikandar Raza smashed 56 off 46 deliveries to guide Zimbabwe to 302 for eight after electing to bat first.
Fast bowlers Tendai Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani then finished with three wickets each to restrict Sri Lanka as Zimbabwe earned 10 precious points in the race for 2023 World Cup qualification.
The victory saw Zimbabwe move from the bottom of the 13-team World Cup Super League up to 10 above Netherlands, Afghanistan and New Zealand with 35 points from 11 matches.
Zimbabwe will be looking to seal another series win in the decider on Friday and further boost chances of automatic qualification to the World Cup to be hosted by India.
“It was quite nice to bat, it was coming on nicely. I thought there was a little bit more in it for the spinners today. I thought in the first game we were bowled a little bit short and wide, and I thought this time the seamers did really well to get those early wickets for us,” Ervine said after the win on Tuesday.
“We were under a bit of pressure to win today, but hats off to the boys for coming out and showing that, you know, desperation to pull off the win,” he said.
After winning the toss for the second time Zimbabwe chose to bat and amassed 302/8 runs and Sri Lanka could only manage 280 in their chase which saw them lose three wickets inside the first eight overs.
Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine is named Player of the Match in Pallekele as his side take the ODI series to a decider! 👏 #SLvZIM
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) January 18, 2022
On Friday, the Chevrons will be looking to win a second consecutive ODI series since their famous win in their last visit in 2017.
So far in this series Sean Williams leads the runs charts with 148 runs in two innings following his 102 in the first match while Regis Chakabva is second with 119 and Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka has 112 runs.
Sri Lanka spinner Jeffrey Vandersay has five wickets while four other players Victor Nyauchi, Blessing Muzarabani, Nuwan Pradeep and Chamika Karunaratne have four wickets apiece.