Sean Williams registered his fifth ODI ton but the knock went in vain as Sri Lanka registered a five-wicket win in Pallekele on Sunday (January 16) to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe.
Williams’ 87-ball 100 and Regis Chakabva’s 72 off 81 powered Zimbabwe to 296/9 after they opted to bat.
Sri Lanka’s collective batting effort, led by Pathum Nissanka’s 75 off 71 and a 129-run fourth-wicket stand involving Dinesh Chandimal (75 off 91) and Charith Asalanka (71 off 68) helped Sri Lanka over the line.
Chasing a competitive score, Sri Lanka got off to an active start, courtesy a run-a-ball 40-run opening-wicket stand between Nissanka and Kusal Mendis (26).
At No. 3, Kamindu Mendis scored a 24-ball 17 before Richard Ngarava (3-56) cleaned him up in the 14th over but Chandimal, Nissanka and Asalanka all chipped in to get Sri Lanka over the line with nine balls to spare.
Earlier, Sean Williams’ 87-ball 100 and Regis Chakabva’s 72 of 81 helped Zimbabwe pile 296/9 after Craig Ervine opted to bat. Chakabva, dropped by Asalanka at first slip off Nuwan Pradeep on 2, put on an 80-run opening stand with Takudzwanashe Kaitano before the latter was trapped leg before by Jeffrey Vandersay in the 15th over. Debutant Kaitano hit seven fours in his 50-ball 42.
But Chakabva held on and notched his fourth ODI fifty in the 19th over with a single. Kamindu Mendis ended Craig Ervine’s short stay with an inside edge on to the stumps. However, Chakabva and Williams held the fort from there, adding 50 for the fourth wicket before Vandersay returned to dismiss Chakabva in the 30th over.
However, Williams kept scoring runs quickly despite receiving little support after Chakabva’s departure to get to his fifth ODI hundred. Richard Ngarava then finished off the innings with a six and a four to set Sri Lanka a challenging total.
Zimbabwe will hope to keep the series alive when they take on Sri Lanka again on 19 January, at the same venue.
The three-match series offers crucial Super League points needed for an automatic qualification for the 2023 50-over World Cup.
Brief scores: Zimbabwe 296/9 in 50 overs (Sean Williams 100; Chamika Karunaratne 3-69) lost to Sri Lanka 299/5 in 48.3 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 75; Richard Ngarava 3-56) by 5 wickets with 9 balls to spare. Player of the Match: Dinesh Chandimal.