Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe 4th ODI: Ervine’s heroics levels series at 2-2

Ervine was named Man of the Match for his game-winning knock of 69 not out

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

With the help of Craig Ervine’s unbeaten 69 and the rain, Zimbabwe managed to set up a series decider after beating Sri Lanka by four wickets via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in the fourth ODI in Hambantota.

With the series level at 2-2, both teams will be determined to come out on top in the fifth and final ODI in Hambantota on Monday.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews would have been thrilled with his decision to bat first as openers Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka amassed a 209-run partnership, during which Dickwella surpassed his hundred and Gunathilaka his fifty.

Gunathilaka struck his sixth half-century in ODI cricket

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Dickwella and Gunathilaka also etched their name in the record books as they became the first pair in ODI history to score back-to-back double century stands.

Zimbabwe finally got their first breakthrough in the 37th over when Gunathilaka was clean bowled by Malcolm Waller for 87, which came off 101 balls and included seven boundaries.

Dickwella ended up making a career-best 116 off 118 deliveries, which included eight boundaries, before he was given out lbw off the bowling of Waller.

Dickwella became just the eighth Sri Lankan player to score two ODI centuries in a row

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Sri Lanka began to lose wickets in a hurry after Dickwella’s dismissal, but Mathews struck a quickfire 42 to get them to 300/6 off their 50 overs.

Waller and Chris Mpofu picked up two wickets apiece, while Tendai Chatara and Sikandar Raza chipped in with one wicket each.

Chasing 301 to win initially, Zimbabwe got off to a good start as Solomon Mire and Hamilton Masakadza put together a 67-run partnership before Masakadza was clean bowled by Wanidu Hasaranga for 28.

Mire went on to score 43 before he became Hasaranga’s second victim.

As for Tarisai Musakanda, he managed to make an encouraging 30 before being caught behind off the bowling of Dushmantha Chameera.

Ervine and Sean Williams were looking to stabilise the innings, but their hopes of doing so were thwarted by heavy rain, which led to a delay that lasted nearly two hours.

As a result, the match was reduced to 31 overs and Zimbabwe were set a revised target of 219 to win.

Shortly after the match resumed, Williams was on his way back to the pavilion as he was stumped by Dickwella off the bowling of Asela Gunaratne for six runs.

Raza fell not long after for 10, while Waller scored a crucial 20 before Ervine finished things off by himself as Zimbabwe reached their target with 10 balls to spare.

Ervine ended up making 69 off 55 balls, which included eight boundaries and a six.

Hasaranga was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Gunaratne, Chameera and Lakshan Sandakan claimed one wicket each.

Mathews was gutted to have lost, and said: “I thought 300 was enough but credit to Zimbabwe. I moved up to get the momentum after Dickwella and Danushka. The wicket slowed up a bit but the shot selection was poor too. It’s been an interesting series so far. Zimbabwe have played really well. We need to step up.”

Zimbabwe skipper Graeme Cremer was over the moon to have won the match, and said: “We knew we were ahead of the rate, and that we were in the game during the rain. Our batting was excellent. The pressures of winning a series does not put pressure on us. We can put up scores as well as chase them. Our final ten overs were excellent. Our bowlers really pulled it back.”

Ervine was named Man of the Match, and said: “The rain break wasn’t too bad. We knew the target. We just needed to execute our plans. Tying the series is exciting. We will come back and try to win that last game.”

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