Zimbabwe began their preparations for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup on a losing note after succumbing to a 33-run defeat against a strong Sri Lankan side in their opening warm-up match in Melbourne on Tuesday.
After Sri Lanka posted 188 for five in their allotted 20 overs, Zimbabwe put up a good fight with Wessly Madhevere leading the charge with a run-ball 42 before he retired hurt in the 16th over.
In the end, the Chevrons finished on 155 for five in their 20 overs with some encouraging performances with the bat by skipper Craig Ervine (24 off 15), Regis Chakabva (20 off 15) and Milton Shumba (32 from 25 balls).
Earlier, the Sri Lankan openers Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka got their team off to a flying start as they put on a 57-run stand in just five overs.
The partnership was broken when Brad Evans dismissed Nissanka for 21 but Mendis carried on and made his way to a fifty.
Mendis was threatening to take the game completely away from Zimbabwe but Ryan Burl gave them a much-needed breakthrough as he had the Sri Lankan batter caught for a well-made 29-ball 54. The 27-year-old hit six fours and three sixes during the course of his knock.
Zimbabwe made a comeback into the game for a brief period as they claimed some quick wickets to reduce Sri Lanka to 133/5 at the end of the 16th over. But Wanindu Hasaranga played an excellent cameo of 37* off just 14 deliveries to take Sri Lanka’s total to 188/5.
The chase was going to be a challenging one for Zimbabwe but a good start to their innings kept them in the hunt. The openers put on 39 runs in just three overs and after reaching a score of 61/2 in seven overs, they looked well on course towards their target. But the match kept slipping away from them after that as the Lankan bowlers bowled tight lines and lengths.
Madhevere scored a run-a-ball 42 and that halted the momentum of Zimbabwe’s innings in the middle overs. Shumba tried his best to get them close to the target with a 25-ball 32 but it wasn’t enough for Zimbabwe as they still fell short by 33 runs.
As far as the Sri Lankan bowling goes, Hasaranga bowled an economical spell of 4-0-22-0 after his flamboyant knock of 37*, whereas Maheesh Theekshana and Chamika Karunaratne claimed a couple of wickets each.