Per­era hits ton, S Lanka pun­ish sloppy Zim­babwe

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Kusal Per­era struck his maiden Test cen­tury as Sri Lanka took con­trol of the first Test against Zim­babwe on the open­ing day at Harare Sports Club yes­ter­day.

Per­era took ad­van­tage of two dropped catches to make an at­tack­ing 110, while Kaushal Silva scored 94 as Sri Lanka notched up 317 for four on a largely onesided day.

Zim­babwe had hoped to push an un­der-strength Sri Lankan side in their 100th Test match, and first un­der new coach Heath Streak, but were in­stead dogged by fa­mil­iar prob­lems with their field­ing.

Wick­et­keeper-bats­man Per­era sur­vived chances on 15 and 30, while Silva was put down on 89 and fel­low opener Dimuth Karunaratne, who made 56, was dropped in the sec­ond over of the match.

Zim­babwe did pull things back in the fi­nal hour of the day, with legspin­ner Graeme Cre­mer pick­ing up two wick­ets to close with fig­ures of 3 for 82.

With reg­u­lar cap­tain An­gelo Mathews and vice-cap­tain Di­nesh Chandi­mal among the five play­ers ruled out of the two-Test se­ries by in­jury, 38-year-old Ran­gana Herath led Sri Lanka for the first time in his ca­reer. Hav­ing won the toss, and elected to bat, he watched his open­ers put on a stand of 123, al­though they could have been sep­a­rated early on. Zim­babwe gave a de­but to fast bowler Carl Mumba, mak­ing him their 100th Test player in the process, and his first de­liv­ery caught the shoul­der of Karunaratne’s bat only for Sean Williams to put down a one-handed ef­fort as he backpedalled at gully.

Karunaratne de­parted af­ter lunch when he chipped Cre­mer to mid­wicket, but that brought Per­era to the crease where he quickly took the at­tack to Zim­babwe’s bowlers.

“They were bowl­ing in good ar­eas but my nor­mal ap­proach is to at­tack. That’s my nat­u­ral way,” he said. “I’m re­ally happy about my first Test cen­tury.” The ap­proach did give Zim­babwe op­por­tu­ni­ties to strike back, but wick­et­keeper Peter Moor was un­able to hold onto two thin edges-one from Silva and one from Per­era-be­fore Mal­colm Waller dropped a sim­pler chance from Per­era at long-on.

Per­era re­sponded with a fear­some on­slaught af­ter tea, tak­ing five bound­aries off a Mumba over to race into the 70s. His scor­ing rate slowed there­after as Zim­babwe went into a con­tain­ing pat­tern and Cre­mer had Kusal Mendis caught be­hind for 34, but he was still able to reach three fig­ures in just 104 de­liv­er­ies.

A sloppy stroke in the fi­nal half-hour of the day even­tu­ally brought his in­nings to a close as he drove a Cre­mer de­liv­ery to Waller at cover, but Sri Lanka nonethe­less closed the day in a strong po­si­tion with Upul Tha­ranga on 13 and Dhanan­jaya de Silva on 10.

“We need to take our chances, be­cause we let a few go to­day,” re­flected Mumba. “If we take all of our chances to­mor­row then we might get them be­fore they reach a big score.” —AFP

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