Zimbabwe – 302-8 in 50 overs (Craig Ervine 91, Sikandar Raza 56, Sean Williams 48; Jeffrey Vandersay 3/51, Nuwan Pradeep 2/74, Chamika Karunaratne 1/24)
Sri Lanka – 280-9 in 50 overs (Dasun Shanaka 102, Kamindu Mendis 57, Chamika Karunaratne 34; Tendai Chatara 3/52, Blessing Muzarabani 3/56, Wessly Madhevere 1/30)
Zimbabwe won by 22 runs
Craig Ervine’s 91 headed a good team batting performance, while Tendai Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani took the main bowling honours, as Zimbabwe overcame a fightback by Sri Lanka to win the second one-day international by 22 runs at Pallekele on Tuesday, levelling the three-match series at one victory each.
Zimbabwe’s batters again did a fine job for their country after Ervine again won the toss and opted to bat first, posting a total of over 300 and with six of the first seven batsmen all playing valuable innings.
Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Regis Chakabva produced another very good opening partnership, putting on 59 together at exactly a run a ball before Kaitano was bowled for 26 by Jeffrey Vandersay.
Ervine was in fine form right from the start, and took the score to 90 with Chakabva before the latter was stumped, again off Vandersay, his 47 coming off 50 balls.
Then came the great partnership of the innings, as the experienced pair of Ervine and Sean Williams took charge of the Sri Lankan bowling with an expert 106-run stand for the third wicket in 17 overs.
Williams was stumped for 48 off 56 balls, but Ervine soon found another excellent partner in Sikandar Raza, who put on 51 with him in eight overs.
Ervine was eventually bowled for an outstanding 91 off 98 balls, unfortunately missing the century he deserved, at 256 for five in the 44th over.
Raza and Ryan Burl then put on 41 in five overs before Burl was run out for 19 attempting a quick single with the total on 297.
Just one over remained, and although the batters brought up the 300, two wickets fell and only five runs were scored.
Raza was caught off the final delivery having scored 56 off 46 balls, with one six and four fours, making the total 302 for eight wickets.
Zimbabwe had scored with great consistency at about a run a ball throughout their innings.
Vandersay was again the best of the Sri Lanka bowlers, as he took three wickets for 51 in nine overs.
Nuwan Pradeep took two wickets in the last over, but overall did not bowl particularly well, going for 74 runs in his 10 overs.
When Sri Lanka batted, Chatara and Muzarabani produced a superb opening spell that troubled the home batters from the start, and under pressure for quick runs they were tempted into false strokes.
Chatara earned his reward in his third over as he bowled Kusal Mendis for seven after a series of fine deliveries.
In the next over Muzarabani also rose to the occasion as Pathum Nissanka (16) edged a catch to the keeper, and two overs later had Dinesh Chandimal caught at first slip.
Sri Lanka were reeling at 31 for three in the eighth over.
Kamindu Mendis and Charith Asalanka now had to dig their team out of trouble and also keep up with the required run rate.
Asalanka looked dangerous as he went to 23 off 21 balls, but a beautiful delivery from Wessly Madhevere bowled him at 63 for four in the 15th over.
Then came a magnificent partnership that threatened to snatch the match from Zimbabwe’s grasp.
Dasun Shanaka attacked the bowling in brilliant fashion while Mendis gave him more solid support, and the pair added 118 to take the score to 181 in the 35th over before Richard Ngarava finally had Mendis caught by Ervine for 57 off 82 balls.
The danger was still not over, as Chamika Karunaratne played a good innings to see Shanaka through to a century, before Chatara returned to have him caught by Raza for 102.
Shanaka scored his runs off only 94 balls, with four sixes and seven fours, and he was out in the 45th over at 247 for six.
The match was now Zimbabwe’s, as the later batters did their best with the required run rate over 10, but lost their wickets in the attempt.
Sri Lanka finished at 280 for nine wickets as Zimbabwe celebrated a great victory.
Chatara and Muzarabani took the bowling honours with three wickets each, while Ngarava and Wellington Masakadza were the most economical, going for little more than four runs an over.