Zimbabwe secured their first T20 international victory against Sri Lanka in a dramatic match to square the three-match series one all in Colombo.
Zimbabwe won by four wickets after needing 20 runs from Angelo Mathews’ final over in order to chase a target of 174.
With 66 runs without losing, Mathews was Sri Lanka’s hero at the bat, but he fell short of the mark as Zimbabwe reached it with one ball remaining.
Luke Jongwe of Zimbabwe was named man of the match after smashing 25 off 12 balls with two fours and two sixes.
Although he had taken two wickets with the ball as well, it was his powerful big hitting in the crucial final over that saw Zimbabwe through.
The final over’s opening ball was smashed by Jongwe for six over long-on, and Mathews had also overstepped, leaving the equation at 13 off six balls.
Three runs off of four balls were needed after Jongwe hit a boundary off the next delivery and then smashed a six off the next one.
Next, Mathews made a dot ball. Worse, the batters completed a single after Jongwe was dropped off the next delivery.
As Mathews missed the yorker, Clive Madande was on strike for the penultimate ball, and he swept it for six to bring the match to a spectacular conclusion.
In the field, Sri Lanka was careless, missing a few catches and making a few misfields.
Craig Ervine, the opening batsman, scored the most, 70 runs off 54 balls, including six fours and two sixes, to keep Zimbabwe in the game.
Ervine’s T20 score was the best of his career.
Ervine effectively countered Sri Lanka’s strongest suit—the spinners—by playing both the sweep and the reverse sweep to disrupt their rhythm.
After falling behind at 27 for 4, Sri Lanka was saved by a 118-run partnership between Mathews and Charith Asalanka.
It was an 86-run partnership between Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa against Bangladesh in Sharjah in 2021, but it was also a record fifth-wicket partnership for Sri Lanka.
In T20 cricket, Mathews scored his sixth half-century at 66 and remained undefeated, while Asalanka hit his fifth half-century and top scored at 69.
However, their efforts were in vain as Zimbabwe managed to pull off an unexpected victory.
The series will be decided on Thursday in the final game, which Sri Lanka won on Sunday.