Mendis stays firm in record S Lanka chase

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Kusal Mendis scored a flu­ent half-cen­tury to keep Sri Lanka’s hopes of chas­ing a record 388 alive on day four of the one-off Test against Zim­babwe yes­ter­day. The hosts were 170 for three at stumps, with Mendis (60) bat­ting along­side An­gelo Mathews (17) at Colombo’s R. Pre­madasa Sta­dium. Sri Lanka’s high­estever suc­cess­ful run chase was against South Africa in 2006, when they achieved their 352-run tar­get in Colombo. Zim­babwe skip­per Graeme Cre­mer dented the hosts with his leg-spin, claim­ing the im­por­tant wick­ets of Upul Tha­ranga (27) and his op­po­site num­ber Di­nesh Chandi­mal (15).

Opener Dimuth Karunaratne was bowled by left-arm spin­ner Sean Wil­liams for 49 as the vis­i­tors per­sisted with an all­spin at­tack in the 48 overs bowled in the in­nings so far.

Karunaratne said Cre­mer-who bagged his maiden five-wicket Test haul in Sri Lanka’s first in­nings-would pose the big­gest threat on a fifth-day track. “We have got to watch out for Cre­mer. He is cre­at­ing the most trou­ble.

There is lot of as­sis­tance for the wrist spin­ner,” Karunaratne told re­porters. “We have al­ready got 170 runs on the board... once the ball gets softer, it gets eas­ier. If these two guys are able to hang in there for one and a half hours we will get into an in­ter­est­ing po­si­tion.”

Mendis, who fought off ham­string trou­ble in the fi­nal ses­sion of play, put to­gether an un­beaten 37-run stand with Mathews to take the del­i­cately poised Test into its fi­nal day. Zim­babwe were ear­lier bowled out for 377 in the sec­ond ses­sion, with Sikan­dar Raza (127) top-scor­ing for the vis­i­tors with his maiden Test cen­tury. Cre­mer was the last man out for 48 off left-arm spin­ner Ran­gana Herath, who re­turned fig­ures of 6133 to take his match tally to 11 wick­ets. The Pak­istan-born Raza steered the team’s mid­dle and lower or­der to help his side ac­cu­mu­late an­other 318 runs af­ter be­ing re­duced to 59-5 on day three. Raza’s 144run part­ner­ship with Mal­colm Waller (68) was the high­light of the Zim­babwe in­nings af­ter the pair re­sumed on the overnight score of 252-6. “Feels great to get my maiden Test hun­dred,” said all-rounder Raza, who also opened Zim­babwe’s bowl­ing with his off-spin. “All the bat­ters put up a tremen­dous show. Bril­liant ef­fort by all the guys to get us into this po­si­tion. The re­sult of this game now can go our way.” Zim­babwe are seek­ing their first-ever Test win against Sri Lanka, who are look­ing for re­demp­tion un­der new Test cap­tain Chandi­mal.

He took over from Mathews, who re­signed af­ter call­ing the one-day se­ries loss a “hard pill to swal­low”. — AFP

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