Captain Dasun Shanaka's century went in vain as Zimbabwe defeated Sri Lanka by 22 runs in the second ODI and kept their hopes alive in the three-match series. Defending a respectable total of 302, the visitors restricted the hosts to 280/9 in the stipulated 50 overs. The Crain Ervine-led side held on to its nerves in the last 10 overs to deny the hosts an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Shanaka - who slammed his maiden ODI ton - kept the hosts in the hunt with a century stand with Kamindu Mendis - who notched up his maiden ODI fifty - for the fourth wicket. But Richard Nagarava ended the stubborn 118-run stand for the fifth wicket between captain Shanaka and Mendis by getting the latter caught for 57.
Shanaka then forged a partnership of 66 runs for the sixth wicket with Chamika Karunaratne to keep hosts in the hunt. But Shanaka's dismissal in the 45th over, bowled by in-form pacer Tendai Chatara, proved fatal for the hosts as the scoreboard pressure got the better of the remaining batsmen and Sri Lanka could only muster 280/9 in the run chase.
Earlier in the match, Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine won the toss and elected to bat first in a must-win game for the tourists. Ervine also led his side from the front as he scored 91. Openers Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Regis Chakabva gave Zimbabwe a solid start, Ervine stitched crucial partnerships with opener Chakabva, and Sean Williams. Williams and captain Ervine - who missed his century by 9 runs - then put on a century-stand to revive their team. However, senior all-rounder provided a late impetus for the visitors with his 46-ball 56 and helped the side post 302 for the loss of 8 wickets.
The focus now shifts to series-decider on January 21.