Cre­mer’s 102 help Zim­babwe avoid fol­low-on

Pakistan Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

HARARE—A fan­tas­tic rear­guard ef­fort from Zim­babwe’s mid­dle and lower OR­DER, led by Graeme Cre­mer’s maiden Test ton, helped the hosts avoid the fol­low-on and post 373 af­ter they had slumped to 138 for 6 in the morn­ing. Peter Moor put his wick­et­keep­ing woes be­hind him to con­trib­ute with an 84-ball 79 and Donald Tiri­pano struck a com­posed 46.

Cre­mer, bat­ting at No. 8, played an at­tri­tional Test in­nings, wait­ing for any­thing over­pitched. He re­ceived plenty of them and drove el­e­gantly to ac­crue eight of his ten bound­aries through mid-off and ex­tra cover. His tim­ing was su­perla­tive and place­ment im­pec­ca­ble, IM­POR­TANT req­ui­sites for bound­ary-scor­ing.

The high­light of Cre­mer’s in­nings was his dis­ci­pline with straight-bat strokes, even if the ball was short or wide. He milked the spin­ners, par­tic­u­larly with the spin to long-on or square on the leg side.

On 58, Cre­mer was dropped at back­ward square leg by Asela Gu­naratne. Other than that opportunity, Cre­mer looked im­preg­nable with a tight de­fense - bat close to body, head over the ball and a good judg­ment of which balls to play at and which to leave. Such was his flu­ency that his hun­dred never looked in doubt as long as he didn’t run out of part­ners. Sus­pense arose around the ground when he needed No. 11 Chris Mpofu to block out one de­liv­ery from Ran­gana Herath.

Moor was more se­lec­tive in his choice of shots, opt­ing to loft the spin­ners straight as op­posed to cross­bat strokes. He used his feet ef­fec­tively and hit the slower bowlers through the line in the arc be­tween long-off and long-on. When the bowlers com­pen­sated with a shorter length, the cut shot was pro­duc­tive.

He reached his fifty off 49 balls, thereby forc­ing Herath to dis­patch field­ers to the bound­ary. At one point, Herath had five deep field­ers off his own bowl­ing.

Just when Moor looked set for his maiden Test ton, debu­tant Lahiru Ku­mara worked him over with a pair of out­stand­ing bounc­ers on a slow pitch. The first, di­rected at the neck, caused Moor to fend awk­wardly. The ball lobbed over slip for four. Two balls later, an­other well-di­rected bouncer ac­counted for Moor. The ball bal­looned up off the glove and gully raced in to com­plete a low catch, Ku­mara’s first Test wicket Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s only one of the ses­sion.

Ku­mara con­tin­ued to trou­ble the bats­men with ex­tra oomph in a test­ing spell. Cre­mer sur­vived a nasty mo­ment when Ku­mara’s bouncer hit and sub­se­quently de­tached his hel­met. It fell per­ilously close be­hind the stumps.

He added 92 with No. 9 Donald Tiri­pano, who was equally adept at keep­ing out the straight de­liv­er­ies and ac­cu­mu­lat­ing runs against Sri Lanka’s tir­ing spin­ners. Against the run of play, Tiri­pano missed a straight one from part-timer Kusal Mendis.

De­spite the lower OR­DER fight­back, Sri Lanka still re­tained con­trol of the Test. They would have been pleas­antly sur­prised with the con­di­tions that greeted them on the third morn­ing. Af­ter the Harare sur­face of­fered noth­ing to seam or spin on the first two days, it started to be­have dif­fer­ently. Vari­able bounce, pace and enough lat­eral move­ment for the seam­ers helped Sri Lanka run through Zim­babwe’s mid­dle or­der in a fivewicket morn­ing ses­sion.

Overnight bats­men Tino Ma­woyo and Hamil­ton Masakadza be­gan the day with staunch de­fence, even with low bounce ev­i­dent from the sec­ond ball of the morn­ing. Ma­woyo was un­cer­tain against the short ball on the sec­ond evening, and Su­ranga Lak­mal ex­ploited that weak­ness by re­peat­edly em­ploy­ing the bouncer. Some flew off the sur­face, some looped to the keeper.

In the fifth over of the day, a bouncer hus­tled Ma­woyo for pace and an at­tempted pull re­sulted in a tope­dge, which was taken by square leg placed half­way to the bound­ary.

Sean Wil­liams and Craig Ervine, Zim­babwe’s best bats­men, were vis­i­bly dis­con­certed by the bounce and chose to sweep Ran­gana Herath. Both bats­men struck bound­aries but the stroke was al­ways fraught with risk on this pitch.— AFP

Peter Moor evades a bouncer dur­ing Zim­babwe vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test’s 3rd day at Harare on Mon­day.

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