Raza 97 puts Zim­babwe on top in S Lanka Test

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Sikan­dar Raza hit a gritty 97 not out to help Zim­babwe re­cover from a top-or­der col­lapse and stretch their sec­ond in­nings lead over Sri Lanka to 262 in the one-off Test yes­ter­day. The vis­i­tors were 252 for six at stumps on day three, with Raza and Mal­colm Waller (57) putting on an un­beaten 107-run stand for the sev­en­th­wicket at Colombo’s R Pre­madasa Sta­dium.

Raza lifted Zim­babwe from a pre­car­i­ous 23-4, fol­lowed by 59-5, af­ter Sri Lankan left-arm spin­ner Ran­gana Herath rat­tled the vis­i­tors’ bat­ting with four early wick­ets. Herath, who got three wick­ets be­fore the lunch break, bowled Sean Wil­liams for 22 in the sec­ond ses­sion as Zim­babwe teetered dan­ger­ously close to los­ing their 10-run ad­van­tage.

It was then that Raza put to­gether 86 runs with Pe­ter Moor (40) for the sixth wicket to turn the ta­bles on Sri Lanka. Moor fell to pace­man Lahiru Ku­mara. Raza, who reg­is­tered his fifth Test fifty, used the sweep shot to great ef­fect against the spin­ners as he found an­other part­ner in Waller to thwart the Sri Lankan bowl­ing at­tack.

“The dress­ing room was very quiet af­ter the lunch break as we were 23-4. Then we said to our­selves, let’s fight back and show that we mean busi­ness,” Waller told re­porters. “We have cre­ated his­tory in the ODI se­ries and we have a great chance here as well. If we can get an­other 100 runs that will give us a good chance to win this Test,” Waller, whose side eye their first-ever Test win over Sri Lanka, added.

Ear­lier skip­per Graeme Cre­mer helped Zim­babwe take the lead af­ter claim­ing his maiden five-wicket haul in a Test, help­ing bowl Sri Lanka for 346 in the morn­ing ses­sion. But it was Herath’s left-arm spin that un­did the fine work from leg-spin­ner Cre­mer (5-125).

Herath, who reg­is­tered his 30th Test fivewicket haul in the first in­nings, ran riot at the start of Zimabwe’s sec­ond es­say to get the wick­ets of Hamil­ton Masakadza, Tari­sai Musakanda and Regis Chak­abva. Off-spin­ner Dil­ruwan Per­era joined forces to get the prized wicket of first-in­nings cen­tu­rion Craig Ervine for five at the stroke of lunch. Sri Lanka’s in­terim coach Nic Pothas, who took over the job af­ter Gra­ham Ford pre­ma­turely ended his con­tract last month, was not sur­prised by the vis­it­ing sides’ fight­ing qual­i­ties.

“The fight that Zim­babwe have shown is not sur­pris­ing at all. They have a qual­ity sup­port staff and they have some fine play­ers,” said Pothas, who rep­re­sented South Africa in three ODIs. “I have played against Zim­babwe when I was play­ing for South Africa and they used to al­ways put up good fights.” —AFP

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan crick­eter Dimuth Karunaratne (L) dives for the ball as Zim­babwe crick­eter Sikan­dar Raza looks on dur­ing the third day of a one-off Test match be­tween Sri Lanka and Zim­babwe at the R Pre­madasa Cricket Sta­dium in Colombo yes­ter­day. — AFP

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