Raza’s heroics in vain as Zimbabwe suffer last-ball heartbreak

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Sri Lanka pulled off a thrilling three-wicket win over Zimbabwe in a last-ball thriller in the first T20I in Colombo on Sunday.

Requiring six runs off the last two balls, tail-ender Dushmantha Chameera smashed a boundary off the penultimate ball.

Then he pushed the last ball to square leg, scampering for two runs to keep Sri Lanka’s unbeaten record against Zimbabwe in T20Is intact.

Sri Lanka owed the win to 36-year-old former captain Angelo Mathews who, playing his first T20I in almost three years, top scored with 46.

Mathews had last featured in a T20I in March 2021, and was recalled to the side as Sri Lanka look to bolster the team with experienced players in the lead up to this year’s T20 World Cup.

Sri Lanka were 51-4 when Mathews walked out to bat, and added 32 runs off 39 balls for the fifth wicket with Charith Asalanka.

It was a crucial rebuilding period for Sri Lanka, but they were back to square one when Sikandar Raza struck twice in his last over to reduce Sri Lanka to 83-6.

Together with fellow all-rounder Dasun Shanaka, Mathews then was involved in a 55-run stand to take Sri Lanka close to victory.

Shanaka, who was axed as captain following last year’s 50-over World Cup, finished unbeaten on 26.

Sri Lanka required 14 runs off the last over.

Mathews hit two boundaries from the first two balls bowled by Blessing Muzarabani to bring the equation down to six from four balls.

He attempted another big hit in the fourth delivery, but failed to clear the mid-wicket boundary and was dismissed for 46, from 38 balls with five fours and one six.

Chameera knocked off the remaining runs while Sikandar Raza’s brilliant all-round performance was in vain.

The Zimbabwe captain had top scored with 62 in his team’s total of 143 and then picked up three wickets, but that proved to be in vain.

It was Raza’s 13th T20 half-century. His 62 came off 42 balls with five fours and two sixes.

The next match is on Tuesday in Colombo.

© Agence France-Presse

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