HAMBANTOTA: Spinner Ajantha Mendis took a record six wickets for just eight runs as hosts Sri Lanka humbled Zimbabwe in the opening match of the World Twenty20 on Tuesday.
Mendis, 27, marked his international return after an eight-month injury lay-off with the devastating haul to wreck Zimbabwe for 100 in 17.3 overs in the Group C match in Hambantota.
Zimbabwe could never cope with Mendis's unreadable deliveries and they collapsed like a pack of cards in pursuit of the daunting target of 183 set by Sri Lanka at Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium.
Sri Lanka, who lost the toss and were sent into bat, owed their total of 182-4 to Kumar Sangakkara (44) and Jeevan Mendis (43 not out), who shared a 94-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Ajantha Mendis struck two blows in his first over, removing Vusi Sibanda (11) and Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor (0) off successive deliveries. He next had Zimbabwe's top-scorer Hamilton Masakadza (20).
He returned for his second spell and took four more wickets to end any lingering Zimbabwean hopes, and improve his own international Twenty20 record figures of 6-16, set against Australia at Pallekele last year.
Jeevan Mendis took 3-24 to cap an all-round performance.
Sangakkara, the newly crowned ICC player of the year, hit a 26-ball 44, studded with a six and two boundaries, while Jeevan Mendis smashed four boundaries and a six during his unbeaten 43 off 30 balls.
Both the left-handers lifted Sri Lanka from 82-3 after they were put into bat.
Tillakaratne Dilshan hit five boundaries during his rapid 39 before he fell caught behind by Taylor off leg-spinner Graeme Cremer. Skipper Mahela Jayawardene was run out for 13 while debutant Dilshan Munaweera made 17.
Twelve teams competing in the event are divided in four groups, with the top two teams advancing to the Super Eight stage, which will decide the four semi-finalists.
Australia take on Ireland in Group B while former champions India face Afghanistan in Group A, both matches in Colombo, on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka are bidding to end their 16-year wait for a second major title after winning the 50-over World Cup in 1996.
DID YOU KNOW?
by Shaan Agha
- 18 year old Sri Lankan, Akila Dananjaya was picked in the preliminary squad for the 2012 World Twenty20, despite never having played a professional match in his life.
-Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara share a world record 2nd wicket partnership of a 166 runs scored in the 2010 edition of this cup held in the Westindies.
-Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera are a product of St Joseph's College, Colombo. The pair formed a lethal combination and earned the popular nickname ‘The Josephian Mafia’ during college years.
-Tatenda Taibu became the youngest ever test captain in 2004 and retired earlier this year at the age of 29.He joined the church, saying “I just feel that my true calling now lies in doing the Lord's work”
-Amongst current and former test playing nations Zimbabwe has played the least number of World T20 matches; only 4. While Pakistan has played the most; 20.
-Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga are the highest wicket takers in Sri Lanka. Both have taken 40 wickets in 21 and 33 games respectively.
-Two decades ago the Zimbabwe squad that toured Australia for the 1992 World Cup did not have a single ethnic African (Black) cricketer. Their current squad in Sri Lanka has 9 of them.