ANI Photo | Returning Angelo Matthews helps Sri Lanka secure 3 wicket win over Zimbabwe in 1st T20I

An all-round performance by a returning Angelo Matthews helped Sri Lanka snatch a three-wicket win from the jaws of defeat against Zimbabwe in the first T20I of the three-match series in Colombo on Sunday night.
Sri Lanka leads this series 1-0. Matthews, playing his first T20I since 2021 played like he never left the format and guided Lanka to a win with his calm and composed knock.
Sri Lanka opted to field first and Zimbabwe was off to a decent start as openers Tinashe Kamunhukamwe (26 in 18 balls, one four and two sixes) and Craig Ervine (10 in 16 balls, two fours) put up a 37-run opening stand in 31 balls.
Zimbabwe was 38/2 at the end of the powerplay following the first six overs, with both openers back in the hut.
Sean Williams then rebuilt Zimbabwe’s innings with skipper Sikandar Raza, who seemed to be batting on a whole different level. Raza particularly targeted pacer Dushmantha Chameera throughout his knock.
Halfway through, Zimbabwe was 64/2, with Raza (20*) and Wiliams (7*) unbeaten.
But Williams’ dismissal by Wanindu Hasaranga for a 20-ball 14 without any four or six put an end to the 45-run stand.
Zimbabwe reached the 100-run mark in 15.1 overs.
Raza reached his fifty in 37 balls, with five fours and a six. This was his 13th T20I fifty. Raza’s innings came to an end with Chameera getting the better of him for 62 in 42 balls, with five fours and two sixes.
Brian Bennett (10*) and Luke Jongwe (13*) took Zimbabwe to 143/5 in 20 overs.
Hasaranga (2/19) and Maheesh Theekshana (2/16) were the pick of the bowlers for SL.
Chasing 144, Sri Lanka faced a crisis in the powerplay as they lost Pathum Nissanka (2), Kusal Mendia (17 in 15 balls) and Kusal Perera (17 in 13 balls) in just five overs or so, sinking SL to 38/3.
At the end of six overs, SL was 43/3, with Sadeera Samarawickrama and vice captain Charith Asalanka at the crease.
SL reached the 50-run mark in 6.5 overs.
Just when Sri Lanka was looking to settle, Raza rang the alarm bells for the Lankan Lions by removing Sadeera (9), Asalanka (16 in 22 balls) and Hasaranga (0) and sinking them to 83/6.
That is when an experienced Matthews took over with Dasun Shanaka (26 in 18 balls, with four boundaries). Matthews scored an unbeaten 46 in 38 balls, with five fours and a six to take SL to a three-wicket win in a last-ball thriller.
Raza’s (3/13 and 62) all-round show went to waste, while Blessing Muzarabani’s (2/33) and Wellington Masakadza’s (1/21) spells also could not win Zimbabwe the match.
Matthews took home the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his calm knock and spell of 0/13 in two overs. (ANI)

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