Rain dis­rupts Zim-Sri Lanka first Test match

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

DIMUTH Karunaratne struck his sec­ond fifty-plus score of the match and his first Test cen­tury in a year to bump up Sri Lanka’s lead to 411 be­fore rain wiped out al­most all of the third ses­sion. His 94-run stand for the fifth wicket with Dhanan­jaya de Silva, which came at 4.47 runs an over, on a sur­face with vari­able bounce, coun­tered debu­tant fast bowler Carl Mumba’s strikes and helped Sri Lanka re-es­tab­lish their dom­i­nance in Harare.

With a thun­der­storm pre­dicted for to­day, Sri Lanka might con­sider an overnight dec­la­ra­tion to force a re­sult.

In the ab­sence of An­gelo Mathews and Di­nesh Chandi­mal, Karunaratne was the most ex­pe­ri­enced bats­man in the side. Yet, he was un­der pres­sure go­ing into the Zim­babwe tour, hav­ing bagged eight sin­gle-digit scores in his last 12 in­nings. His slump could have been ex­tended to 10 sin­gle-digit scores in 14 in­nings had Zim­babwe hung onto their chances. He, how­ever, rode his luck, and fol­lowed his chancy 56 in the first in­nings with a more se­cure cen­tury in the sec­ond.

He was dropped on 5 by Brian Chari, div­ing to his left at ex­tra cover, on the fourth morn­ing, but other than that Karunaratne seemed in con­trol. He had joined forces with De Silva after Mumba had struck ei­ther side of the lunch break. Kusal Mendis skied a lead­ing edge to the right of mid-on where it was pouched, while Upul Tha­ranga drove away from the body and nicked be­hind. With Sri Lanka at 117 for 4, Zim­babwe sensed an open­ing, but the vis­i­tors slammed the doors on them.

De Silva was flu­ent from the out­set, punch­ing and flick­ing with typ­i­cal in­sou­ciance. The shot of his knock, how­ever, was the check-driven straight four off a Chris Mpofu of­f­cut­ter in 39th over. He fur­ther upped the scor­ing rate when he swat­ted Graeme Cre­mer for two bound­aries in the 48th over. By then the lead was 345.

De Silva brought up his 50 off 65 balls. His flu­ency prob­a­bly rubbed off on Karunaratne, who grew com­fort­able in the sec­ond ses­sion, after be­ing put through a — stern ex­am­i­na­tion in the chan­nel out­side off in the morn­ing. Later when the seam­ers dug the ball short and aimed to cramp him up, he did well to ride the bounce and pull be­hind square. He reached the three-fig­ure mark by nudg­ing Cre­mer to square leg, and it was re­lief rather than rau­cous cel­e­bra­tion for the opener.

Karunaratne and De Silva then ex­ited ei­ther side of tea be­fore rain al­lowed only 23 balls. Karunaratne chipped an of­f­cut­ter back to Mpofu, while De Silva jabbed a ris­ing de­liv­ery to point to give Mumba his fourth wicket.

At the end of the third day’s play, Zim­babwe’s cap­tain Cre­mer out­lined their plan: pin down the flow of runs with tight bowl­ing and in-out fields. Mumba reaped the re­ward for re­lent­lessly prob­ing away on a fourth-stump line - or oc­ca­sion­ally a set of stumps out­side off - when Kaushal Silva played away from the body and inside-edged a drive to leg stump for 7 off 20 balls.

Kusal Per­era, bat­ting at No. 3, then creamed his sec­ond de­liv­ery to the right of ex­tra cover for four in the 10th over, also the first bound­ary of the in­nings. Karunaratne, mean­while, got into his groove with a brace of late-cut fours. They put on 55 in 12.5 overs, be­fore part-time off­spin­ner Mal­colm Waller struck in his sec­ond over to have Per­era caught at slip for 17. Waller had looped it up on the rough and got it to spin away to find the out­side edge, which was snaf­fled by Hamil­ton Masakadza div­ing to his left.

Karunaratne and De Silva, how­ever, foiled Cre­mer’s plans as the day pro­gressed. Con­sid­er­ing the rain threat, Sri Lanka’s plans could be foiled too. — ESPNCricinfo

Zim­babwe play­ers cel­e­brate the dis­missal of Kaushal Silva of Sri Lanka in the first Test in Harare yes­ter­day.

AP

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