Dilshan and Munaweera did well at the top of the knock before the spinners tied down proceedings for a brief period. Mendis later added some spunk to the Sri Lankan middle order, with Sangakkara along for the ride. Zimbabwe dropped two catches, missed a couple of run-outs, let through a string of overthrows and were guilty of a handful of misfields. They won't be happy with their day in the field, but will back their batsman to triumph regardless. Stick around for the chase, it should be a cracker. Meanwhile, your thoughts on proceedings so far welcome at: email@example.com
Back-to-back blockhole deliveries from Mpofu, who later has the third hoisted over square-leg for the second six of the match by Sangakkara. The left-hander really got under that one, using the depths of his crease to great effect. WICKET! He then runs himself out, though, searching for a quick second. He sacrificed himself for the cause there. Perera in now, and straight into the thick of things, planking six over square-leg. He misses the last ball, though.
Jarvis' attempt to run out Sangakkara at the striker's end goes askew, amounting to four more overthrows for Sri Lanka. The batsman then rubs salt into the wounds, lofting four more over point. Then a waist-high no-ball, and Zimbabwe all splitting at the seams here. Bowling coach Heath Streak will be upset by this performance. The Zimbabwean attack is much better than this, and they will know as much. Finally, Ervine at square-leg, puts in a superb diving stop to restore the balance.
Vitori will bowl the third-last over of the innings, making sure to get his length as full as possible, ensuring the bounce too. Sangakkara hasn't been at his fluid best today, and this partnership would be pretty languid were it not for Mendis' effort. This, by the way, is now his highest score in T20I cricket, outgunning the 29 not out he made against the Aussies in August. An overthrow and a wide, meanwhile, help Sri Lanka all the more. 150 up for Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe, if/when they lose this match, will rue a poor day in the field...
Jarvis back into the attack, and right up there with a couple of blockhole deliveries, which are always going to be hard to get away. So the batsmen decide to make their own length, dancing down the track to meet the delivery at its pitch. Unfortunately, for Zimbabwe, the latest yorker beats everyone, including wicketkeeper Taylor, as four byes scream to the fence.
Mendis flatbats a single past bowler Mpofu, allowing Sangakkara some strike, but the former captain quickly returns it to his fellow left-hander. This trend continues for the bulk of the over, with Sri Lanka only managing singles when they want boundaries. One such four eventually arrives, with Sangakkara helping some lame width over the head of point. Sri Lanka on course for a 160-plus total here - pretty good considering the trying nature of this pitch.
Chigumbura's introduction into the attack brings immediate expense for Zimbabwe, with Mendis hoisting the first six of the tournament over backward square-leg. Later, he tries the switch hit, but doesn't connect. David Warner or Kevin Pietersen surely would have done better. Nor does his huge heave across the line to a slower delivery work. Rushes of blood to the head, indeed. A little lap around the corner, all the way for four, certainly pays off. Chigumbura needs to find a tighter line, especially with thirdman and fine-leg up in the circle.
Swept in front of square, darn hard at that, Mendis wants everything to do with Cremer's long-hop. That's exactly why he has been sent to the crease ahead of Mathews, as his next slap to the long-off fence attests to. Poor end to an otherwise great four-over complement from the leg-spinner. Jeevan outscoring Sangakkara now. So arrives the Sri Lankan 100.
Mpofu back into the attack, and he starts with a clever slower ball to fool Mendis. Zimbabwe's boundary riders later do some good work on the fences, preventing a couple of fours. Not the men at mid-off and mid-on, though, who allow Jeevan four on the drive. A bobble in the field, perhaps, didn't help 'em. The umpire is left laughing at the sight of the comedy of errors. Meanwhile, two left-handers at the crease, and it's not doing much to help the fast bowler's quest for a consistent line.
This will be another run-out. WICKET! Casually trotting through for the second run, Jayawardene doesn't realise the immediacy behind the return throw from that man Waller, seeking redemption for his two dropped catches. The bowler gathers, whips off the bails, and the batsman's lunge isn't long enough. That's poor running from the veteran. He will be kicking himself, perhaps literally, en route back to the dugout. Jeevan, promoted above Mathews or Perera, to the crease now - and he will do well to not take example from his captain's lead.
Zimbabwe's spinners tying the batsmen down despite their finest efforts to find the fence. Jayawardene eventually middles one, but can only pick out the man on the midwicket fence. On the bounce, though, so no harm either way. Utseya finding so much turn, that it pitches on off-stump and turns down the leg-side - no wide, rightly so.
Not for the first time today and probably not the last, Sri Lanka chance their arm with a risky single. No run-out now, and now lbw dismissal later either. Cremer, who gets the wrong'un to drift into Jayawardene and traps him on the front pad dead in front, has his appeal obliged. Jayawardene starts to make his way off the field, only to return after television replays reveal a backfoot no-ball from the leg-spinner. He touched the popping crease with his heel. Shame. That will, momentarily, take the wind out of Zimbabwe's sails. They can't let this negatively affect 'em, though. WICKET! All is well that ends well for the African side, however, with Dilshan feathering an edge to the wicketkeeper. That was the straight, quick delivery from Cremer. It has done the trick. No backfoot no-ball in this one. 2012 ICC Cricketer of the Year and Test Cricketer of the Year Sangakkara in now.
Utseya cops the tournament's first reverse-sweep, with Jayawardene orchestrating the unorthdox shot to perfection in fetching four exquisite runs. With thirdman and fine-leg up in the circle, that unusual stroke is always on offer. The regular sweep, too, which Dilshan deploys for a couple more. Sri Lanka gunning it at almost eight runs an over here and, with nine wickets still in hand, can target a 190-plus score - if they really get stuck in from here on in...
Time for some leg-spin as Cremer, picked ahead of the veteran price, enters the attack. He really has to get his length right, or he will travel far and wide at the hands of Dilshan and Jayawardene's collective mercilessness. And he does just that, keeping the trigger-happy duo's boundary-seeking ambition to mere singles.
WICKET! Absolute comedy of errors as Munaweera falls to his knees in trying to sweep, misses the ball, sets off for a run regardless, but is turned on his heels by Dilshan's denial. The striker loses his bat amid the drama, and can't beat the return throw back to his crease. For all that, he is run out, as television replays soon reveal. You don't see that every day - a batsman putting in a giant leap instead of the dive. Correctly so, in this case, as he didn't have a piece of wood to elongate his lunge. Off he mopes. Captain Jayawardene in now.
More right-arm seam. Mpofu will bowl the final over of the Powerplay. DROPPED! Meanwhile, the ball is following Waller, who grasses a realtively easy chance at backward square-leg. Falling forward, clasping at the ball low to the ground, he only manages to parry it to the deck - Munaweera survives again. Dilshan takes advantage of the lifeline on his batting partner's behalf, deploying his trademark 'DilScoop' and a the straightest of drives for back-to-back fours. Expensive start for the lanky, wayward Mpofu as the Sri Lanka 50 - and, of course, the half-century alliance - arrives.
The 2012 World Twenty20's first over of spin will be bowled by Utseya, whose lack of effective length is soon worked to the deep-cover fence for four by Dilshan. Great timing in that shot, indeed. Utseya too coughs up a leg-side wide, and then another - that's a full over of extra deliveries from the visiting attack. Shameful. Some tidy turn for Utseya regardless, though.
Zimbabwe's seamers almost averaging a wide per over here, and that's really not what skipper Taylor will want after winning the toss and choosing to bowl first. Dilshan then chases what would have been a leg-side wide, fetching a top edge which fortunately plugs into no-man's land in the fine-leg area. Later a clever slower, albeit full, delivery - and another lame wide, and then a half-volley walloped for four by Dilshan. Vitori not loving life in and against Sri Lanka at the moment. The over closes with Munaweera almost run out at the striker's end. He was gone for all money had the attempted direct-hit struck willow.
Dilshan and sidekick going hard at the ball each and every time. Not connecting well, though, and they'd be better off just turning the singles until their respective proverbial eyes on in. Jarvis, meanwhile, finds some big bounce - but cops a wide for his bent-back effort. At least he will know what this pitch has to offer from that short ball. The debutant later spoons four over the bowler's head, but misses his next swipe through the line. DROPPED! And, to cap the over, Waller spills a chance in the deep. Munaweera miscued, the ball skied, and then fell through the fingers of the fielder in the midwicket region. Waller did all the hard work in getting there, but couldn't hang on with outstretched arms. Tough chance, indeed, but those need to be taken at this level.
Southpaw seamer Vitori next, approaching the right-handed Dilshan from over - and very wide - of the wicket. Too full, eventually, though, and duly spanked through the covers for four by Dilshan, who remains perturbed by the movement behind the bowler's arm. Too often cricket falls prey to rogue, silly fans meandering across the sightscreen. Then a lame leg-side wide, and a single tucked behind square-leg. Really, not a great start from Vitori, until he bites back - to an extent - with a shout for lbw. Pitched outside Munaweera's leg-stump, though, so was never going to be given out. Never say never, however, when umpire Tucker is involved.
Right-arm seamer Jarvis gets first use of the new ball and coughs up an ugly full toss to start. It swung, yes, but was harmless, with Munaweera slicing it through backward point and cover for four. A boundary off your first ball faced in international cricket, fancy that. The rest of the over is tighter from Jarvis, who cleans up his act - and forces the debutant into a false shot to close the over.
Small, albeit growing, crowd in. Not what you want to see from the get-go of a major ICC tournament, but so be it. This isn't a major game, really, the bigger guns will file in later this week - and so to the appropriately sized crowds.
"Zimbabwe might fancy themselves here, by causing an upset here. Sri Lanka, at home, will be difficult to beat. But who knows what might happen if they manage to restrict Sri Lanka? Something chaseable, I hope," declares Thomas Musonza.
With the fanfare, national anthems, handshakes and other such pleasantries over, umpires Rod Tucker and Ian Gould, opening batsmen Munaweera - a fine graduate of the Sri Lanka Premier League - and Dilshan and the Zimbabwean XI out to the middle for the start of play. Game on. Here we go.
"No Price?! What are Zimbabwe thinking? They just can't afford to not play the experienced man," says Michael Knott. Your thoughts on the teams' respective selections welcome here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dilshan Munaweera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, KC Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis, Lasith Malinga
Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Prosper Utseya, Kyle Jarvis, Brian Vitori, Chris Mpofu.
Spinner Ajantha Mendis makes a return to the Sri Lankan XI, while opening batsman Dilshan Munwaweera is handed a debut. Taylor, meanwhile, is pleased with his plehora of spin-bowling options, which includes specialists Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer. No Ray Price, though.
This just in: Visiting skipper Brendan Taylor triumphs in the flip of the coin and Zimbabwe will field first.
While we await the toss, here's our first bit of feedback for the day - Thomas Pendleton, from Essex, is looking forward to seeing how the conditions play out: "England need to get to grips with the Sri Lankan specs quickly, and this match between the hosts and Zimbos will soon show what's on offer. I see New Zealand used two spinners to open the attack in their warm-up game? Will that be the general trend?" You too can mail your opinions to: email@example.com
We've got a coolish evening on our hands in Hambantota, where the wind is very prevalent as usual. Meanwhile, pseudo pitch pundit Sanjay Manjrekar has surveyed the playing surface, finding a bit of grass cover, but by no means is this a greentop, he insists.
Hello and welcome to our over-by-over commentary of the first game in the 2012 World Twenty20. This one's a Group C clash, with Sri Lanka taking on Zimbabwe at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota.