Sri Lankan leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga returned to international cricket with a career-best 7-19 to lead his team to an eight-wicket victory against Zimbabwe and a 2-0 ODI series triumph on Thursday in Colombo.
In a game reduced to 27 overs each side due to two downpours, Sri Lanka’s best bowler skittled the visitors for 96 in his first outing back after a six-month hamstring injury hiatus.
“It’s been a long break,” he later told reporters. “It’s hard work to come back to the side and (I am) very pleased with the effort.”
Sri Lanka batted out the overs in 17 overs, with Kusal Mendis scoring an unbeaten 66 off 51 balls.
Zimbabwe had made a solid start, scoring 43 points without losing, but the entrance of Hasaranga proved fatal for the visitors.
Hasaranga’s googly claimed three wickets at the end of his second over, leaving Zimbabwe at 47-3, with four batters trapped leg before wicket.
“The guys showed a lot of fight in the series,” Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine remarked.
“(It) Didn’t go well today, although we started off well before the rain break,” he went on to say.
“We had few options against spin.” This is something we will take away from the series.”
Hasaranga’s fourth five-wicket haul breaks Angelo Mathews’ previous record of 6-20 against India in 2009.
It was also the second highest ODI performance by a Sri Lankan spinner, after Chaminda Vaas’ 8-19 against Zimbabwe in 2001.
As he went off the field, Hasaranga, who will skipper Sri Lanka in the next T20 series, got a standing ovation.
“I am not a records man but (it’s) great to have… and it helps the team win,” Hasaranga said in a statement.
“This is a good morale boost for us ahead of a busy season.”
Joylord Gumbie led the visitors in scoring with 29 points.
As the hosts raced to a comfortable victory with 62 deliveries to spare, skipper Mendis put up a 73-run partnership for the second wicket with debutant Shevon Daniel (12).
“It’s my first series win, and it feels good,” remarked Mendis.
“I’ve had a lot of help from my seniors.” Hopefully, we can continue from here.”
The first match of the series was rained off, but the hosts won the second by a hard-fought two-wicket margin.
On Sunday, a three-match T20 series starts, with all games being played in Colombo.