Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)


One-off Test at R. Premadasa Stadium


Sri Lanka lost three wickets in their chase of a record target yesterday but a halfcentur­y from Kusal Mendis kept the hosts within reach, as Zimbabwe positioned themselves to record a famous win.

At stumps on day four of the only Test, chasing 388 to win, Sri Lanka were 170, with a heavily cramping Kusal Mendis on 60 and former captain Angelo Mathews on 17.

Zimbabwe, with the more favourable equation, need just seven wickets to record a historic first Test win against this opposition.

A toothless bowling effort on an unresponsi­ve track meant that Sri Lanka needed 39 overs to remove the last four Zimbabwean wickets, but that was not before the visitors had amassed so sizeable a lead that the hosts would need to put in a record effort to win this Test – no team has chased more than 382 to win a Test in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka made a good enough start reaching 56 for no loss in the 18 overs they faced before tea but Upul Tharanga didn’t last long after, caught by Peter Moor at short leg.

A confident Dimuth Karunaratn­e and a positive Kusal Mendis put on 50 runs for the second wicket, before Karunaratn­e, who had done well to get within a run of a half-century, watched as a ball he chose to leave pitched well outside off-stump and spun wickedly into his stumps.

Five overs later Dinesh Chandimal’s forward defensive to Graeme Cremer only facilitate­d an edge to first slip.

Mendis’ half-century included six delectable boundaries – three of them directed to square leg – and he will be Sri Lanka’s best hope to save or win the Test.

Sikandar Raza reached his maiden Test century on the second ball of the day and, continuing in the same vein as the previous day, added another 37 runs with overnight partner Malcolm Waller to take Zimbabwe’s lead past 300.

Their seventh-wicket 144-run partnershi­p was finally broken when Waller lofted a shortpitch­ed ball careening down leg-side straight to the fielder at deep midwicket.

Three overs later, Sri Lanka took the new ball as soon as it was available, and 20 balls on Herath completed his 31st five-wicket haul when Raza, attempting a premeditat­ed reverse sweep, was bowled around his legs – his innings of 127 having taken Zimbabwe from the edge of defeat to a possible match-winning position.

There was no further success for the hosts at the lunch break – a light drizzle ending the first session a little ahead of schedule – with Graeme Cremer adding 35 runs and taking his team’s lead to exactly 350.

In the ninth over after lunch Dilruwan Perera had Donald Tiripano out leg before wicket 19 – after a partnershi­p of 55 with Cremer – before the Zimbabwean captain was Herath’s sixth wicket five overs later.

 ?? PIC BY PRADEEP DILRUKSHAN­A ?? Dinesh Chandimal looks on after edging to Hamilton Masakadza at first slip
PIC BY PRADEEP DILRUKSHAN­A Dinesh Chandimal looks on after edging to Hamilton Masakadza at first slip
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