Sri Lanka Seal Series But Zimbabwe Push Them Close
Sri Lanka 171-7 (Sangakkara 57, Mupariwa 4-39, Chigumbura 3-37) beat
Zimbabwe 166-7 (Masakadza 77, Muralitharan 2-20) by five runs
Third One Day International, Harare
Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe by five runs in the third One Day International in Harare to move to an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series after the home side's spirited chase of 172 in 28 overs ended when Muttiah Muralitharan had Tawanda Mupariwa stumped with six runs required from the last ball of the innings.
Kumar Sangakkara made 57, top scoring for Sri Lanka for the third match in a row, as they posted 171 for seven in 28 overs after early rain prevented play getting underway on time.
His 59-ball innings held the innings together in difficult batting conditions which saw seam bowlers Tawanda Mupariwa (4-39) and Elton Chigumbura (3-37) share all seven wickets to fall.
Chamara Kapugedera (28) and Upul Tharanga (29) both made starts but were unable to convert them while Mahela Udawatte (1) and Mahela Jayawardene (4) fell for single figure scores.
Jehan Mubarak made 22 from 21 balls and Farveez Maharoof 14 from eight as Sri Lanka tried to accelerate late on. Sangakkara was caught by Mupariwa off of Chigumbura with two overs left in the innings.
Sri Lanka, bowled out for 127 and 67 in the opening two matches, came alive with the bat as Hamilton Masakadza blasted seven fours and two sixes to spearhead their run chase with 77 from 71 balls.
Vusi Sibanda (25) and Tatenda Taibu (31) offered solid support but the innings lost momentum as Sri Lanka turned to spinners Muralitharan (2-20) and Ajantha Mendis (2-36) while left-arm seamer Thilan Thushara (2-31) removed both openers.
Masakadza was caught by Nuwan Kulasekera off of Thushara in the 25th over and Zimbabwe eventually needed 20 to win from the final 12 balls.
They were still in the game, but when Stuart Matsikenyeri's punchy innings of 19 from 10 balls ended with five balls to go, Sri Lanka were favourites once again and Muralitharan conceded just four from the next four balls, leaving Mupariwa needing six to win.
He ran down the track, swung, missed, Sangakkara did the rest, and Muralitharan took his second wicket as Zimbabwe closed on 166 for seven having put up much more of a fight than many expected after the first two mismatches.
© Cricket World 2008