Zimbabwe lose to Sri Lanka but still in contention for World Cup spot

Zimbabwe – 165 all out in 32.2 overs (Sean Williams 56, Sikandar Raza 31, Ryan Burl 16; Maheesh Theekshana 4/25, Dilshan Madushanka 3/15, Matheesha Pathirana 2/18) 

Sri Lanka – 169-1 in 33.1 overs (Pathum Nissanka 101*, Dimuth Karunaratne 30, Kusal Mendis 25*; Richard Ngarava 1/35)


Sri Lanka won by nine wickets

Zimbabwe went down to their first defeat of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023, suffering a nine-wicket loss at the hands of Sri Lanka in a Super Six match played at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Sunday.


The hosts were put in to bat first, which tends to be a disadvantage with a 9am start, as the bowler can move the ball around more during the first hour or so of play.

This is exactly what the pace bowler Dilshan Madushanka did when he opened the bowling to Zimbabwe’s opening pair of Joylord Gumbie and Craig Ervine.

Gumbie fell right into the trap set for him, clipping the fifth delivery straight to midwicket before he had scored a run.

In Madushanka’s next over Wessly Madhevere attempted a pull and was caught at mid-on for one – two wickets down for eight runs.

Madushanka picked up a third wicket when he tempted Ervine to play a false stroke outside the off stump to be caught at the wicket for 14, and Zimbabwe were 30 for three in the seventh over.

There followed the one bright spot of the Zimbabwe innings, as Sikandar Raza joined Sean Williams at the crease and they began a fine assault on the Sri Lankan bowlers.

In 13 overs they added 68 runs with some superb strokes before Raza, who got most of the bowling, tried to pull for six and was caught for 31 off 51 balls.

When Ryan Burl joined Williams at 98 for four in only the 20th over, it was perhaps a time to consolidate a little before launching a full assault on the bowling.

Instead, the next three overs saw the pair put on 29 runs at a great pace, with Williams reaching his fifty.

Then the off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana spun a ball past Williams to bowl him out for 56, scored off 57 balls, and Zimbabwe were in trouble at 127 for five.

Three runs later the situation became critical, as another sharp spinner bowled out Burl for 16 off 15 balls – 130 for six in the 25th over.

Luke Jongwe (10) and Brad Evans (14), who scored off only 12 and 16 balls respectively, were both out lbw hitting across straight balls.

Richard Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani were bowled out third and second balls respectively going for big hits.

Wellington Masakadza was left stranded with four not out off 16 balls, and Zimbabwe’s poor batting effort came to an end for 165 in 32.2 overs.


Madushanka took three wickets for 15 runs and never came on for a second spell, while Theekshana picked up four wickets for 25.

This left Sri Lanka with a simple target to chase down.

Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne were the opening pair who waited for the right balls to hit and did a cool clinical job.

They had no trouble and brought up their fifty partnership in the 11th over and hundred in the 19th.

At this point, however, Ngarava finally broke the stand with a short ball that Karunaratne tried to pull without being able to get into position, and lofted a catch to Evans at deep fine leg.

He had been the less aggressive of the two openers, going out for 30 off 56 balls with the score at 103.

Kusal Mendis came out to join Nissanka, who went from strength to strength.

As they drew closer to victory, Mendis slowed down to give his partner the chance of reaching his century, which he successfully did by hitting a full toss from Masakadza for four, the winning runs.

He scored 101 not out off 102 balls, with 14 fours, while Mendis finished with 25.

Muzarabani and Raza were on the whole the best of the Zimbabwe bowlers, with the former bowling his eight overs for 28 runs and the latter seven for 27, but they could not take the necessary wickets.

With the victory, Sri Lanka have booked their place at the ICC Men’s World Cup 2023 in India and Zimbabwe can still do the same if they beat Scotland on Tuesday.