Off to a flyer

Ajantha Mendis was virtually unplayable.

HAMBANTOTA – Hosts Sri Lanka coasted to a crushing 82-run victory over Zimbabwe in the opening match of the Twenty20 World Cup in Hambantota today.

Having lost the toss and been inserted by Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka posted a total of 182-4 from their 20 overs with a fourth-wicket partnership of 94 between Kumar Sangakkara (44) and Jeevan Mendis (43) the mainstay of the innings.

That score always looked like being a tough ask for Zimbabwe to chase down and so it proved as spinner Ajantha Mendis ran through their unconvincing batting order, finishing with the best-ever international Twenty20 bowling figures of six wickets for eight runs from his four overs.

Namesake Jeevan Mendis also chipped in with three as Zimbabwe were dismissed for 100 with 15 balls of their innings remaining.Having started strongly, Sri Lanka endured a minor wobble in the middle of their innings as they were reduced to 82-3.

Opener Dilshan Munaweera was the first man to go as he was run out for 17 in the seventh over and Tillakaratne Dilshan and captain Mahela Jayawardene then went in quick succession to raise Zimbabwe hopes.

Graeme Cremer claimed the scalp of Dilshan (39) as he was well caught behind by wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor having mistimed a cut off a quicker ball, while Jayawardene (13) was also run out two overs later as momentum was briefly lost.

But Sangakkara and Jeevan Mendis steadied the ship and then pushed on as Sri Lanka racked up 96 runs from their last eight overs to post an imposing score.In reply, Zimbabwe were quickly reduced to 43-3 with captain Taylor dismissed for a first-ball duck.

Opening batsman Hamilton Masakadza top-scored with 20 but after that things went downhill, with only four other batsmen creeping into double figures.

Jeevan Mendis (3-24) claimed the scalps of Craig Ervine (10) and Malcolm Waller (0) in the same over before Zimbabwe finally capitulated in the 18th over when Lasith Malinga removed Chris Mpofu for a duck. Zimbabwe skipper Taylor was naturally disappointed to fall to such a convincing defeat in the opening game.

“We are a far better side than how we performed today but it was tough. We have to bounce back strongly. There’s no excuse for it,” he said. (Sky)

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