T20 World Cup 2012 kicks off - Curtain raiser - SL v Zim

The 4th edition of the T20 World Cup got underway on 18th September , 2012 , as the hosts Sri Lanka pounced upon minnows Zimbabwe to ensure a confident start for themselves . Sri Lanka's performance was built on the canny batting exploits of Sangakkara and Jeevan Mendis , and later the astounding bowling spells from comeback man Ajantha Mendis.

The T20 World Cup , 2012 got underway when Sri Lanka took on Zimbabwe , in an expectantly lop-sided match-up . The hosts played with the zeal and aplomb that they display when playing under the familiar home conditions . The batting-friendly Hambantota wicket gave the islanders just the right opportunity to flex their muscles against the conventional 'minnows' of world cricket .
The toss was the only aspect of the game that Zimbabwe won , and they decided to take the field first. Their modest bowling display in the initial stages of the game was interspersed with shoddy fielding efforts and unwanted overthrows . Sri Lanka may not have got off to a trailblazing start but Tilakaratne Dilshan and his opening partner Dilshan Munaweera kept the scoring rate afloat . The home side's batting armoury was temporarily tested when Dilshan and skipper Jayawardene were sent back to the pavilion in quick succession . The scoring rate was thwarted and the islanders had to endure a 27-ball boundary drought at that stage . Things started moving smoothly once again when Jeevan Mendis , surprisingly pushed up the order , launched a fierce assault on the meagre bowling resources of the travellers . His passionate display of a wide array of shots in his repertoire has almost sealed a place for him in the Sri Lankan team in the shorter version of the game . Mendis' crafty batting was aided by Sangakkara's manipulative stroke-play . The duo added 94 runs for the fourth wicket and sailed Sri Lanka to a imposing score of 182 !
Zimbabwe's lacklustre bowling and fielding efforts had already made the target very stiff and the responsibility of wresting an early advantage from the Lankan bowlers lay on the shoulders of the openers Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda . The pair did ensure that their team got off to a good start , and put on 36 in the first 5 overs . Zimbabwe , however , fell apart like a house of cards when Ajantha Mendis took centrestage to make a memorable comeback in T20s . Ajantha rocked the Zimbabwe chase very violently when he scalped the two openers and Brendan Taylor in consecutive overs . Zimbabwe's chase was nearly over when Ajantha castled Elton Chigumbura in his third over , leaving Zimbabwe reeling at 80/6 in the 14th over . The canny bowling of Ajantha Mendis was ably supported by the batting star of the day -Jeevan Mendis - who reaped a rich harvest of 3 wickets and 43 quick runs from the game . The last wicket of the day was deservedly bagged by Slinga Malinga when he ended the limping Zimbabwe chase with Mpofu's wicket .Zimbabwe had just scraped through the ordeals to reach the three-figure mark , but could not add anything more !
The day surely belonged to Sri Lanka , but the limelight was strongly hogged by the comeback man, who was later adjudged man-of-the-match, Ajantha Mendis . With figures of 4-2-8-6 , he has now recorded the best bowling figures in World T20 . The hosts have displayed their batting and bowling prowess in the very first encounter of this T20 World Cup . This goes to show , that inspite of meekly surrendering to India in a warm-up tie earlier , Sri Lanka are no pushovers and that they would be a force to reckon with in the rest of this tournament !


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