Cre­mer leads Zim fightback

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

ZIM­BABWE cap­tain Graeme Cre­mer led from the front, pluck­ing his team from a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion with his maiden Test cen­tury, which helped the Chevrons avoid the fol­low-on and limit the first in­nings deficit to 164 runs on the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Harare Sports Club yes­ter­day.

Cre­mer ar­rived at the crease with his team in all sorts of trou­ble, af­ter the vis­i­tors had dom­i­nated the morn­ing ses­sion, but - like a true leader - he fash­ioned a way to fight back and, at the end, was un­beaten af­ter run­ning out of part­ners hav­ing struck a cen­tury full of guts and show­ing his top order play­ers how to han­dle the pres­sure.

He be­came the first Zim­bab­wean cap­tain to take four wick­ets and score a 100 in the same in­nings as the Chevrons posted 373 af­ter they had slumped to 139 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 as the lower order frus­trated Sri Lanka who, at the close yes­ter­day, had moved to five with­out loss for a lead of 169.

“It has not sunk in yet. When play be­gan, we wanted to get past the fol­low-on score, that was the main thing for us,” said Cre­mer.

“But then, af­ter I got 50-60, I thought there could be a chance here and it just was my day to­day. We were strug­gling a bit in the morn­ing and just to get us back into the game, that was a big thing for me.

“We’ll go with in-out fields to­mor­row (to­day); we don’t want them to score too quickly and then we have too much time to bat, be­cause we think that to­mor­row the wicket might get quite tough to bat on.”

Cre­mer, bat­ting at No. 8, played an at­tri­tional Test in­nings, wait­ing for any­thing over­pitched.

He re­ceived plenty such de­liv­er­ies and drove el­e­gantly to ac­crue seven of his 10 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, he was dropped at back­ward square leg by Asela Gu­naratne. Other than that op­por­tu­nity, Cre­mer looked im­preg­nable with a tight de­fence - 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. Overnight th e

po s i t i on looked hope­ful, with a score of 88 for one wicket, and Tino Ma­woyo, on 41, and Hamil­ton Masakadza, on 33, had bat­ted con­fi­dently and pos­i­tively the pre­vi­ous evening.

How­ever, the morn­ing ses­sion saw Zim­babwe lose five good wick­ets, in a se­ries of fee­ble or ill-judged strokes, and by lunch a good re­sponse to the Sri Lankan to­tal of 537 was al­most im­pos­si­ble.

PJ Moor fight­ing.

He did not hide his ag­gres­sive in­stincts, and had faced only a few balls when he lofted a ball from Per­era over long-on for six.

He lashed the next ball through the also came out cov­ers for four, but the ex­pe­ri­enced bowler held the next back and Moor only just sliced it short of back­ward point. He hit an­other six off Herath just be­fore lunch, again hit­ting with the spin, which meant it car­ried over the long-off bound­ary. At the in­ter­val the score was 174 for six, with Moor on 25 and Cre­mer, bat­ting with good com­mon sense, 10. Af­ter lunch both bats­men thrived, mak­ing a non­sense of the five wick­ets that fell dur­ing the morn­ing. Cre­mer’s pre­vi­ous high­est score in Test cricket was 43. “I think we bat quite well to­gether be­cause PJ plays some big shots and keeps the score­board tick­ing, and I know that I can block out a maiden if I need to and just get off strike,” said Cre­mer. “So that helps me a lot, know­ing there’s some­one on the other end scor­ing.” Moor went on to score a ca­reerbest 79 in a 132-run stand with Cre­mer which only ended when Lahiru Ku­mara pro­duced a fear­some bouncer that Moor fended to slip. - -

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Sri Lanka Zim­babwe Stumps Scores 537 and 5 for 0

373 all out in 107.5 overs Day 3: Graeme Cre­mer struck his maiden Test ton to lead Zim­babwe’s re­cov­ery.

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