Needing six runs off the final two deliveries, tail-ender Dushmantha Chameera played a decisive role, smashing a boundary off the penultimate ball and scampering for two runs off the last delivery to secure a three-wicket win.
The veteran Angelo Mathews, making a comeback to T20 Internationals after nearly three years, played a crucial inning, top-scoring with 46.
Speaking about the match, Mathews credited Chameera, stating, “The best knock came from Dushmantha Chameera who scored those six runs in two balls. All our hard work would have been useless had he not connected.”
Sri Lanka found themselves in a challenging position at 51 for four when Mathews walked in, but he, along with Charith Asalanka, stitched together a crucial partnership, adding 32 runs for the fifth wicket.
Sikandar Raza‘s double strike in his last over had Sri Lanka at 83 for six, but a resilient 55-run partnership between Mathews and Dasun Shanaka brought them back into contention.
Shanaka, who was stripped of captaincy post last year’s 50-over World Cup, finished unbeaten on 26. With 14 runs required off the last over, Mathews took charge, hitting two boundaries off the first two balls. Despite Mathews’ dismissal for 46 from 38 balls, Chameera held his nerve to guide Sri Lanka to victory.
Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza, who had earlier top-scored for his team with 62 and also picked up three wickets, expressed disappointment at the result but praised his team’s fighting spirit.
“It was a great game to be part of. We hung in there, and we are not going to blame the conditions. We have two more games, and we will bounce back,” Raza stated.
The second match of the series is scheduled for Tuesday in Colombo, promising another intense battle between the two sides.
(With inputs from AFP)