Harare:A collapse by Zimbabwe of stock market proportions gifted Sri Lanka a leisurely victory here on Thursday in the first of a series of five One-Day Internationals.
And the main instigator was predictably Muttiah Muralitharan who snatched 4-14 in four overs. It brought "Murali" up to 468 wickets in this form of the game. And it was fortunate for the Zimbabweans that he didn't bowl any more.
The hapless home side slumped from 124-3 to 127 all out in 31 overs, losing seven wickets for just three runs scraped together.
Only Tatenda Taibu came through the mayhem with 36 not out.
The Sri Lankans coasted to 130-4 in reply, giving them a comfortable win by six wickets and a 1-0 series lead. The Zimbabweans, expecting a 5-0 whitewash weather allowing, failed in their realistic objective of putting up resistance.
At least there were fewer than 500 spectators at the Harare Sports Club to see the spectacular extent of their failures.
Upul Tharanga failed to score, thus setting a false note to the proceedings. Mahela Udawatte made 38 in 45 balls and Kumar Sangakkara 46 not out in 95.
Mahela Jayawardene scored only 10, the result of trying to hit Ray Price out of the ground and himself out of the soporofic atmosphere.
Part of the problem was a rather grassy wicket and a damp atmosphere at the time of a fairly early start, allowing swing and lateral movement. Ajantha Mendis made full use of the circumstance with 3-26.