The T20 World Cup 2022 begins in Australia in 34 days. Sportstar will present one iconic moment/match from T20WC history each day, leading up to October 16, 2022.
September 18 - Ajantha Mendis’ 6/8 vs Zimbabwe (Best bowling figures in an innings in T20 World Cup)
Man-of-the-Match Ajantha Mendis picked up a ‘never-before’ six wickets in a World T20 game, conceding a miserly eight runs, as Sri Lanka won the inaugural match of the fourth edition of the ICC World T20 championship in style. Zimbabwe fell 82 runs short chasing 183. The Zimbabwe batsmen could not handle the spin from both Ajantha Mendis and Jeevan Mendis.
Making a comeback, Ajantha’s medley of mystery balls unhinged Zimbabwe’s chase. His analysis of six for eight is the finest in Twenty20 history and with leg-spinner Jeevan striking with the bat (43 not out) and ball (three for 24), Sri Lanka had a perfect start.
In fact, at no point did Zimbabwe look competitive.
Earlier, aided by some sluggish fielding and wayward bowling, and a 94-run partnership between Kumar Sangakkara (44) and Jeevan Mendis (43 n.o.), Sri Lanka made 182 for four. Zimbabwe’s bowling and fielding were a nightmare. Two fielders converging and letting the ball go through to the boundary, lavish over-throws and dropped catches were among the gifts that Sri Lanka gratefully accepted.
The average first innings score in a T20 game on this ground is 127. Zimbabwe gave away enough to make Sri Lanka’s score look handsome.
Opening batsman and debutant Dilshan Munaweera (17), picked ahead of Dinesh Chandimal, began the match with a four. A Jarvis full toss, that was moving away, was dismissed through point.
Munaweera lived up to the first part of his name — Dilshan, which in international cricket has often translated to living dangerously — and had many lives: an ugly slog that ballooned and travelled towards deep mid-on where Malcolm Waller attempted a catch, a missed run out chance an over later and a dolly put down by Waller at deep mid-wicket.
Finally, Munaweera’s luck ran out when he failed to regain his crease after being sent back by his partner Dilshan (39). Munaweera set off for a nonexistent single, and lost his bat in the process while turning back to regain his crease.
More drama followed after captain Mahela Jayawardene (13) failed to pick a straighter one from Cremer. Mahela was plumb in front and the umpire had no hesitation in lifting his finger. But a television replay, which is done as a matter of default these days, showed that Cremer had cut the side crease with his back foot. Mahela survived.
Two balls later, Dilshan edged Cremer to wicketkeeper Taylor who made no mistake. Mahela did not last long though. He appeared to have been done in by the shorter boundaries.
Sangakkara and Mahela have played long enough to sense an opportunity for a run. When Mahela took on a Waller throw and found himself short of the crease, it could just be because of a lapse of concentration that led him to forget the new dimensions of the boundary ropes.
Earlier, Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to field on a pitch that looked green. For Sri Lanka, Ajantha Mendis made a comeback while Munaweera was the new face in. Zimbabwe went in with two spinners.
(These excerpts have been taken from an article first published in The Hindu on September 19)