Wanindu Hasaranga’s lower-order demolition eased Sri Lanka to a 2-1 series win against Zimbabwe on Thursday after the tourists were bowled out in Colombo for 82, their worst-ever T20 total.
The home skipper’s 4-15 included two scalps on his final two deliveries and Sri Lanka cruised to a nine-wicket victory inside 11 overs.
“Today we bounced back,” all-rounder and ex-skipper Angelo Mathews told reporters after the win.
“We have a very attacking captain who wants to achieve bigger things. He has created a good environment. That is the key.”
Pathum Nissanaka (39 not out) and Kusal Mendis (33) added 64 runs in 46 balls before a deceptive turner from left-arm spinner Sean Williams took the latter off-stump for Zimbabwe’s sole breakthrough.
Nissanka sealed Sri Lanka’s win by launching Sikandar Raza for six over long-on when the scores drew level.
Zimbabwe had a creditable start with 56-3 after the first six overs of power play but struggled to score boundaries once fielding restrictions eased.
Number three batsman Brian Bennett top-scored with 29 off just 12 balls, including four boundaries in the second over, before a Hasaranga catch off Mathews sent him back.
But a quick collapse saw the tourists lose their last six wickets for just 11 runs including three in the final three balls of the innings.
Sri Lanka’s fielding stepped up after a shambolic show in the second match handed them a four-wicket defeat and Zimbabwe their first T20 win in the island nation.
“We didn’t turn up today,” Zimbabwe captain Raza said after the disappointing finish to the series.
“When we needed courage and fighting spirit it wasn’t there,” he added. “There has been lot of good and bad in this series. We have been either really good or really poor.”
Hasaranga’s 4-15 was backed up with a return to form by ex-skipper Mathews, who shared the new ball and finished with two wickets.
Mathews had conceded 24 runs in the final over of the second match to gift Zimbabwe their come-from-behind win.
Thursday marked the first T20 series win for Sri Lanka after a drought stretching back to their Asia Cup win in 2022.
They next host Afghanistan for a one-off Test and six white-ball matches.