Sri Lanka secure tri-series title

Sri Lanka completed a successful tour of Zimbabwe when they beat the home side by six wickets to lift the trophy of an intriguing tri-series, in Bulawayo.

The final proved something of a cake walk for Sri Lanka but do not forget that they were only two runs from being eliminated from the competition when they beat the West Indies by just one run in a 660-run thriller on Wednesday.

Sunday’s match was played on the same good wicket but the home side were only able to muster 160 runs as they were skittled out inside 37 overs on a cloudy morning at the Queens Sports Club.

After lunch it was generally sunny and it was hard not to question Cremer’s decision to bat first at the toss.

The Zimbabwean think tank indeed made some unexpected decisions after beating the West Indies on Friday. Openers Chibhaba and Chari were dropped and Masakadza (10) and Moor (1) were moved to the top of the order – out of position – in an experiment that did not work.

Zimbabwe were 20 for two after five overs when drizzle forced a very brief delay in play. Debutant Tarisai Musakunda (36) and Ervine (25) then put on a neat partnership that elevated home spirits and at 72 for 2 it looked as if a close game was in prospect.

Vandersay (3-50) and Gunaratne (3-10) had other ideas, though, and wickets fell like nine-pins as the innings floundered.

Only Williams (35) put up any resistance but he too lost his head and was out playing a rash and ugly cross-batted shot that went straight up rather than to the hills. Waller (14) was guilty of the same misdemeanor.

Another real surprise was sprung on the Sri Lankans was the selection of paceman Brian Vitori– he was not even in the squad but happened to be in Bulawayo was given a last-minute call-up.

His selection somewhat paid off, however, as he ripped rip through the visiting top order and reduce SL to 42 for three at lunch. Playing without a number or name on his shirt, he was expensive later on and finished with three for 57 from nine overs.

After lunch, man of the match and series Kushal Mendis (57) steadied the ship and guided Sri Lanka towards victory on what turned out to be a beautiful and sunny afternoon at such a lovely ground.

The local fans did their side proud as around 2000 people came through the turnstiles and sang and danced the afternoon away, as if their side was winning easily.