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Magnificent Ajantha Mendis gives hosts Sri Lanka perfect start at World Twenty20

Updated: Tuesday, 18 Sep 2012 20:34 | Comments

Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis (centre) ensured Zimbabwe's Prosper Utseya did anything but in Hambantota, dismissing him for just a single run
Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis (centre) ensured Zimbabwe's Prosper Utseya did anything but in Hambantota, dismissing him for just a single run

Sri Lanka spinner Ajantha Mendis demolished Zimbabwe with the best ever international Twenty20 bowling figures as the hosts cruised to an 82-run victory in the opening ICC World Twenty20 match in Hambantota.

The Lions overcame a minor wobble in the middle of their innings to set an imposing target of 183 which Zimbabwe never looked likely to reach.

Mendis was the key weapon in the Sri Lankan attack, claiming six wickets for just eight runs as Zimbabwe crumbled under the floodlights and could only reach a total of 100 in the Group C match.

Sri Lanka started strongly in their innings before they were reduced to 54 for one when Dilshan Munaweera was run out for 17 in the seventh over.

Mahela Jayawardene was then handed a reprieve when he was given out lbw only for the decision to be chalked off as a back-foot no-ball by bowler Graeme Cremer.

However, three balls later, Cremer came back to claim the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan with a quick ball. The Sri Lanka captain tried to cut the delivery but mistimed it, with wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor claiming the second wicket with a neat catch.

Jayawardene was then run out two overs later as the momentum was briefly lost from the Sri Lankan innings before Kumar Sangakkara (44) and Jeevan Mendis (43) steered the side's total to an impressive 182 for four from the 20 overs.

In reply, Zimbabwe were quickly reduced to 43 for three 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 (three for 24) was also in the wickets and he 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.

He told Sky Sports 1: "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.

"We've all played enough cricket to go away from today and rethink, come back tomorrow and start training but we don't have a long time until Thursday."

Sri Lanka captain Jayawardene said: "It's tough playing a team like Zimbabwe as you can't take anything for granted.

"We got got a good score then bowled really well. It's a pretty good wicket but you have to get used to the pace a bit. The spinners came on and did the job."

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