Zim­babwe strike back af­ter solid SL start

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

A dis­ci­plined per­for­mance from Zim­babwe’s bowlers en­sured that Sri Lanka didn’t run away with the ad­van­tage, the vis­i­tors re­main­ing 284 be­hind with eight wick­ets in hand as bad light brought a pre­ma­ture end to the se­cond day’s play in Harare. At the crease were An­gelo Mathews, the dou­ble-cen­tu­rion from the first Test, and Kusal Mendis, on 4 and 19 re­spec­tively.

Of the Zim­babwe bowlers, the ob­vi­ous stand­outs were Sikan­dar Raza and Don­ald Tiri­pano, the pair ac­count­ing for the two Sri Lankan wick­ets to fall on the day, though they will count them­selves un­lucky not to have had more.

Af­ter an un­event­ful postlunch ses­sion, the action picked up af­ter the tea break, with Raza pro­vid­ing the break­through. Dimuth Karunaratn­e, who had been se­lec­tive with his shot­mak­ing up un­til that point, picked the wrong de­liv­ery to utilise the sweep, get­ting trapped lbw by a fuller de­liv­ery.

That wicket brought Zim­babwe’s first real threat­en­ing pe­riod of play in the field. While Tiri­pano probed from one end, Raza nearly got another, with Mendis edg­ing to short leg only for Prince Mas­vaure to spill the chance.

Later on, Raza could have had Mendis caught at square leg af­ter the bats­man swept in the air, but Tiri­pano on the square leg bound­ary failed to track the flight of the ball.

Tiri­pano, though, could be granted a lit­tle lee­way, hav­ing ac­counted for Oshada Fer­nando a few overs ear­lier. The Sri Lanka opener had been kept quiet in the pre­ced­ing overs - much of it ow­ing to Tiri­pano’s dis­ci­pline - and, as such, was a lit­tle too ea­ger to dis­patch a rare pitched up de­liv­ery. How­ever, with the ball shap­ing away late, Fer­nando’s hard at­tempt at a drive only man­aged to slice the ball through to Regis Chak­abva be­hind the stumps.

The rest of the ses­sion was Mathews and Mendis at­tempt­ing to con­sol­i­date as Sri Lanka were mind­ful of the im­por­tance of not los­ing another wicket be­fore stumps. Sri Lanka though will be aware of the need to up their scor­ing rate - cur­rently stand­ing at a touch over two runs an over - on day three, if they are to force a re­sult. Of the nine bound­aries scored by Sri Lanka, only one - when Mendis danced down the track to loft a bound­ary to long-on - was not a re­sult of in­creas­ingly rare profli­gacy on the part of the Zim­babwe bowlers.

The day had started bet­ter for the vis­i­tors when left-arm spin­ner La­sith Em­buldeniya picked up three of the last four Zim­babwe wick­ets on his way to fig­ures of 4 for 182. While Zim­babwe’s tail had done well to stick around for most of the morn­ing, they would have been dis­ap­pointed at not hav­ing added more than 54 to their overnight total.

How­ever, with runs on the board, and still three-and-a-half days’ of cricket re­main­ing, the Zim­babwe bowlers looked pa­tience. Tiri­pano, in par­tic­u­lar, was im­pres­sive as he rarely veered from his line out­side off and con­stantly bowled on a prob­ing good length.

While the lat­eral move­ment was lim­ited, there was enough to keep the Sri Lanka bats­men cau­tious - at least early on, when keep­ing wick­ets in­tact was more of pri­or­ity.

All this meant the post-lunch ses­sion was the least event­ful of the day as Sri Lanka’s bats­men took min­i­mal risks, and the bowlers sim­ply waited for a mis­take that wasn’t forth­com­ing. It re­sulted in the only wicketless ses­sion of the match so far.

Things, how­ever, picked up af­ter tea, be­fore a brief rain in­ter­val and then bad light brought play to a close.


Zim­babwe play­ers cel­e­brate the dis­missal of Sri Lanka’s Oshada Fer­nando

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