Pallekele, January 22: Sri Lanka turned up the pressure to beat Zimbabwe by 185 runs to claim ten Cricket World Cup Super League points and the series in the third match of the ODI series in Pallekele.
Zimbabwe had taken the series to a decider thanks to their excellent win in the second match, giving them the chance to make it consecutive series wins away in Sri Lanka.
But the home side had other ideas and produced their best performance of the year so far to blow the visitors away.
Opening bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Maheesh Theekshana set the tone for Sri Lanka under the lights to leave the chase well short, with Chameera taking two wickets in two balls in just his second over.
A big outside edge did for opener Chakabva, caught in the slips by Charith Asalanka, and danger-man Craig Ervine went the very next ball, lured into an edge and snaffled on this occasion by Kusal Mendis.
But it was spin that as always likely to be the trickiest test for Zimbabwe on a turning track, and Theekshana bagged the first of seven wickets to fall to the turning ball in the innings when he bowled Sean Williams through the gate to leave the tourists in a heap of trouble at 20/3.
Takudzwanashe Kaitano attempted to lead the recovery, but when Jeffrey Vandersay had him stumped for 19 the writing was on the wall for Zimbabwe, with the rest of the wickets tumbling in quick time.
Ryan Burl was the only other player to make it to double figures as Zimbabwe were bamboozled by the Sri Lankan spin trio.
Theekshana finished with one for 10 off six, Ramesh Mendis picked up 2/26 and the outstanding Vandersay’s four for 10 off 7.4 overs cemented his position as the top wicket-taker of the series with nine across the three matches.
Zimbabwe’s final wicket fell in just the 25th over, all out for 70 and still 184 runs short of the target on the night.
Earlier Sri Lanka had won the toss and opted to bat first, and an opening stand of 80 got the innings off to a fine start before Kusal Mendis fell for 36.
Every member of the Sri Lankan top eight got a start, all reaching double figures, with Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka the most fluent batters on display.
Nissanka’s steady 55 came off 66 balls at the top of the order, while Asalanka rotated the strike beautifully in his attractive 52 from 56.
But Sri Lanka ended their innings slightly disappointed that they had been unable to take advantage of those half-centuries, limping to 254/9.
That proved more than enough on the day though, with the bowlers sealing a series win, their fourth series victory from the last five at home.