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Ajantha hits Zimbabwe for a six; Lanka kick-off World T20 with 82-run win

Ajantha Mendis bettered his own T20 record by taking six wickets for just eight runs as Sri Lanka walloped minnows Zimbabwe by 82 runs in the opening match of the World Twenty20 cricket tournament, here today.

Sri Lanka recovered from a slow start to post a huge 182 for four and then bundled out Zimbabwe for 100 in 17.3 overs in the Group C match at the Mahinda Rajapakse stadium.

Ajantha Mendis
Ajantha Mendis (C) celebrates after dismissing Zimbabwe's Hamilton Masakadza (left). Pic/AFP 

The Zimbabweans struggled to handle spin and were bamboozled by Ajantha (6/8) and Jeevan Mendis (3/24), who shared nine wickets between them.

Ajantha's figures were best in Twenty20 cricket as he improved on his own early figures of six for 16 which he had claimed against Australia, last year.

The hosts owed their impressive total to Kumar Sangakkara (44) and Jeevan as the two left-handers put on a 94-run stand for the fourth wicket.

Sri Lanka were 107 for three in 14 overs but Sangakkara and Jeevan took the game away from the minnows with their superb batting.

Zimbabwe had done well in the early part of the Lankan innings but leaked 75 runs in the last six overs to let go the advantage. The total proved too big to manage for Zimbabwe against an experienced bowling line-up.

Ajantha was too hot to handle as he conceded just eight runs in his four overs and two of them maiden. The Zimbabweans could manage just five boundaries in the first 10 overs, three of them coming from the bat of Hamilton Maskadaza (20), who was top scorer for them.

Ajantha struck twice in two balls in the sixth over as he first rattled the stumps of Vusi Sibanda (11) and then had skipper Brendan Taylor stumped in the next ball. Maskadaza was batting confidently and had even dispatched dangerous Lasith Malinga twice to the boundary line but he also failed to pick Ajantha and became his third victim.

Jeevan Mendis
Sri Lankan cricketer Jeevan Mendis plays a shot during his innings. Pic/AFP  

Jeevan after contributing with the bat, struck twice in his first over as he scalped Criag Ervin (10) and Malcolm Waller, who went without troubling the scorer. At 58 for five in 11 overs, Zimbabwe's chase was in disarray and it was matter of time when the Lanakans would complete the thumping win.

Ajantha added the scalps of Elton Chigumbura (19), Prosper Utseya (1) and Kyle Jarvis (0) in his tally before Lasith Malinga brought curtains on the rival innings.
Earlier, three of the four wickets that fell in the Lankan innings were run outs as spinner Greame Cremer (1/27) was the lone bowler for Zimbabwe to make an impression.

Sangakkara's 44 runs came off 26 balls with two fours and a six while Mendis's took 30 balls for his knock and helped himself with five boundaries, including a six.  

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