Ajantha Mendis recorded the best bowling figures in international Twenty20 cricket as host Sri Lanka routed Zimbabwe by 82 runs in the World Twenty20 opener.
Spin bowler Mendis, playing his first match for Sri Lanka since January, claimed six wickets for eight runs last night in the Group C encounter in Hambantota. He surpassed the 6-16 he took against Australia last year as the best bowling performance in international cricket’s shortest format.
“Ajantha was very keen to get back into the side and we saw that hunger in him,” Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena said in comments on the tournament’s website. “I’m sure he’ll have bad days but the quality of the player is that he’ll have more good days than bad.”
Sri Lanka, the second favorite to win the 12-nation event behind India according to U.K. bookmaker William Hill, totaled 182-4 after being put in to bat and dismissed Zimbabwe for 100 in 17.3 overs.
Kumar Sangakkara made 44 for the home team, Jeevan Mendis stuck an unbeaten 43 of 41 balls and Tillakaratne Dilshan scored 39. Thisara Perera came in two balls from the end, at 176-4, and clubbed a six off the first delivery he faced.
Zimbabwe’s top scorer was opener Hamilton Masakadza with 20, while Jeevan Mendis took 3-24 and Lasith Malinga claimed the other wicket.
“It’s tough playing a team like Zimbabwe as you can’t take anything for granted,” Jayawardene told Sky Sports. “We got a good score, then bowled really well. The spinners came on and did the job.”
The top two in each of the four groups go through to a Super Eight stage, from which the top two in each pool advance to the semifinals. The final is in Colombo on Oct. 7.
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