Returning to One Day Internationals after a seven-month injury hiatus, Sri Lankan all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga delivered a career-best performance, taking 7 wickets for just 19 runs and leading Sri Lanka to a comfortable victory over Zimbabwe. The rain-affected match at R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Thursday saw Hasaranga’s exceptional bowling performance dismantle Zimbabwe’s batting lineup and secure a convincing 2-0 series win in the three-match series.

Opting to bat first, Zimbabwe began their innings with a promising start. Openers Joylord Gumbie and Takudzwanashe Kaitano managed to build a solid foundation, accumulating 43 runs in the first nine overs. However, their fortunes changed dramatically when Kaitano became Hasaranga’s first victim, skying a sweep shot to short fine leg. This wicket triggered a devastating collapse in the Zimbabwean batting order.

In the very next over, Hasaranga struck twice more, dismissing Joylord Gumbie and Craig Ervine, both adjudged leg-before-wicket. Hasaranga’s third over continued to add to Zimbabwe’s woes as he trapped Milton Shumba in front of the stumps, claiming his fourth wicket. The leg-spinner’s onslaught was relentless, and with the support of Janith Liyanage and Maheesh Theekshana, Zimbabwe’s innings crumbled. Within the span of just 50 balls, Zimbabwe lost seven wickets, adding only 24 runs to their total.

Despite a brief resistance from Luke Jongwe and Wellington Masakadza, who provided a temporary respite from the relentless collapse, Hasaranga continued to dominate. Zimbabwe was eventually bowled out for a meager 96 runs in just 22.5 overs.

Sri Lanka’s chase began on a shaky note as opener Avishka Fernando departed for a four-ball duck in the first over. However, the target proved to be relatively modest for the home team. Debutant Shevon Daniel initially struggled to find his rhythm but found support from captain Kusal Mendis. Mendis played aggressively from the start, showcasing his batting prowess by scoring 66 runs from just 51 balls, including nine boundaries and a six.

The partnership between Daniel and Mendis added 73 runs for the second wicket, stabilizing Sri Lanka’s innings. Mendis’s aggressive approach put the chase on track, and despite Daniel’s initial struggles, he contributed significantly to the partnership. Sadeera Samarawickrama then provided valuable support with an unbeaten 17-ball 14, guiding Sri Lanka to a comprehensive victory. The home team reached the target in just 16.4 overs, sealing the series with a 2-0 lead.

Hasaranga’s remarkable performance not only secured victory for his team but also earned him a coveted spot among the top performers in men’s One Day International (ODI) history. His 7/19 stands as one of the best bowling figures in ODI cricket, showcasing his exceptional skill and control.

Sri Lanka’s win against Zimbabwe highlighted the team’s strength and depth in both batting and bowling. The series win also emphasized the importance of Hasaranga’s role as a key all-rounder for Sri Lanka. His return to form and fitness bodes well for the team’s future prospects in international cricket.

The match, despite being rain-marred, provided thrilling cricket action, with Hasaranga’s performance being the standout highlight. The leg-spinner’s ability to take crucial wickets at regular intervals broke the backbone of Zimbabwe’s batting lineup and set the stage for a comfortable chase by the Sri Lankan batsmen.

Overall, the match was a testament to Hasaranga’s talent and determination, marking a memorable comeback in ODI cricket. His career-best figures of 7 for 19 will be remembered as one of the finest performances in the history of the sport, and his contribution was instrumental in Sri Lanka’s dominant win over Zimbabwe.