Mire ton flattens Sri Lanka

HARARE - Opening batsman Solomon Mire scored his maiden ODI hundred as Zimbabwe became the first team to successfully chase a total over 300 against Sri Lanka in Galle on Friday.

Sri Lanka won the toss and set a competitive total of 315/5 after 50 overs but the tourists were able to chase it down and win the match by six wickets and 14 deliveries to spare.

The chase was the highest ever in Sri Lanka in 296 ODIs and to put the icing on the cake the win was also Zimbabwe’s first victory against the hosts in Sri Lanka.

Mire enjoyed nine lives on his way to his first limited overs century from 18 ODIS after scoring a well-deserved 112 from 96 deliveries.

Even the TV commentators were astonished with his knock saying; “Mire’s bat needs to be put on ice because it’s on fire”, after two consecutive boundaries off left arm spinner Malmeege Alphonso.

His knock featured 14 boundaries with the right-handed batsman favouring his leg-side where he scored 87 runs.  

He was dropped several times first at short leg by Kusal Mendis in the ninth over off the bowling of off-spinner Akila Dananjaya.

In the 10th over, the 27-year-old batsman was again dropped by wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella off Alphonso after an attempted sweep.

Mire was given out in the 11th over after he looked to play the reverse sweep too early but the decision was overturned by the third umpire since his bat or glove had not made any contact with the ball.

Experienced Sri Lankan pace bowler Lasith Malinga dropped Mire at fine leg off Asela Gunartne in the 29th over with the batsman on 94.

Sean Williams (65) and Sikandar Raza (67 not out) also anchored the innings with their two half centuries.

Malcolm Waller’s 29-ball 40 also helped Zimbabwe cross the finish line.

Zimbabwe convenor of selectors Tatenda Taibu was over the moon.

“I’m normally calm but today, I’m so over the moon. What I saw today was fearless cricket. The more we play this type of cricket, we will win against any team that comes our way,” Taibu told the Daily News from Sri Lanka.

Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer was excited after the win.

“Very special! To chase down a score like that to post our first win here was amazing. For our batting to chase the total down, special,” he said.

“Mire is a real asset to the team, not just with the bat but also with the ball. He’s lovely to watch. We just want to take it one game at a time. We can hopefully carry this confidence forward.”

The Zimbabwe captain had lost the toss and the home side decided to bat first with the tourists bowlers struggling to find their rhythm throughout the 50 overs.

The hosts powered by three half centuries from top order batsman Danushka Gunathilaka (60), number three Kusal Mendis (86) and Upul Tharanga (79) at number four went on to score what looked like a defendable 315.

However, Zimbabwe’s chase got off to a dithering start after off-colour opening batsman Hamilton Masakadza departed for five runs in the third over after he was caught behind by wicketkeeper Dickwella .

Craig Ervine soon followed for 18 runs in the 11th over leaving Zimbabwe on 46/2.

Mire and Williams then combined for 161-run third wicket partnership that brought Zimbabwe back into the game.

Sri Lanka finally broke the partnership when Mire was caught and bowled by seamer Gunartne in the 33rd over but the foundation for a successful chase had been in place.

So good was Zimbabwe’s batting that after 24 overs they were cruising on 149-2 and at same point during Sri Lanka innings they were on 125-1.

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