COLOMBO: Sikandar Raza hit a gritty 97 not out to help Zimbabwe recover from a top-order collapse and stretch their second innings lead over Sri Lanka to 262 in the one-off Test on Sunday.
The visitors were 252 for six at stumps on day three, with Sikandar and Malcolm Waller (57) putting on an unbeaten 107-run stand for the seventh-wicket at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium.
Sikandar lifted Zimbabwe from a precarious 23-4, followed by 59-5, after Sri Lankan left-arm spinner Rangana Herath rattled the visitors’ batting with four early wickets.
Herath, who got three wickets before the lunch break, bowled Sean Williams for 22 in the second session as Zimbabwe teetered dangerously close to losing their 10-run advantage.
It was then that Sikandar put together 86 runs with Peter Moor (40) for the sixth wicket to turn the tables on Sri Lanka. Moor fell to paceman Lahiru Kumara.
The Pakistan-born Sikandar, who registered his fifth Test fifty, used the sweep shot to great effect against the spinners as he found another partner in Waller to thwart the Sri Lankan bowling attack.
Earlier skipper Graeme Cremer helped Zimbabwe take the lead after claiming his maiden five-wicket haul in a Test, helping bowl Sri Lanka for 346 in the morning session.
But it was Herath’s left-arm spin that undid the fine work from leg-spinner Cremer (5-125).
Herath, who registered his 30th Test five-wicket haul in the first innings, ran riot at the start of Zimabwe’s second essay to get the wickets of Hamilton Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda and Regis Chakabva.
Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera joined forces to get the prized wicket of first-innings centurion Craig Ervine for five at the stroke of lunch.
While Sri Lanka look for redemption under new Test captain Dinesh Chandimal after their shock loss in the one-day series against Zimbabwe, the visitors eye their first-ever Test win over the islanders.
ZIMBABWE (1st Innings) 356 (C.R. Ervine 160; H.M.R.K.B. Herath 5-116).
SRI LANKA (1st Innings, overnight 293-7):
D. Karunaratne c Masakadza b Tiripano 25
W.U. Tharanga run out 71
B.K.G. Mendis c Chakabva b Cremer 11
D. Chandimal c Chakabva b Cremer 55
A. Mathews c Masakadza b Williams 41
N. Dickwella b Cremer 6
M.K.D. Perera run out 33
D.A.S. Gunaratne b Cremer 45
R. Herath st Chakabva b Williams 22
R.A.S. Lakmal c and b Cremer 14
C.B.R.L.S. Kumara not out 1
EXTRAS (B-8, LB-10, W-1, NB-3) 22
TOTAL (all out, 102.3 overs) 346
FALL OF WKTS: 1-84, 2-107, 3-116, 4-212, 5-226, 6-238, 7-274, 8-322, 9-343.
BOWLING: Mpofu 11-2-41-0 (1w); Tiripano 10-1-38-1; Sikandar Raza 18-2-60-0; Cremer 39.3-4-125-5 (1nb); Waller 1-0-2-0; Williams 23-3-62-2 (2nb).
ZIMBABWE (2nd Innings):
H. Masakadza lbw b Herath 7
R. W. Chakabva b Herath 6
T. Musakanda c Karunaratne b Herath 0
C.R. Ervine c Karunaratne b Perera 5
S.C. Williams b Herath 22
Sikandar Raza not out 97
P.J. Moor c sub b Kumara 40
M.N. Waller not out 57
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-7, W-6, NB-1) 18
TOTAL (for six wkts, 68 overs) 252
FALL OF WKTS: 1-14, 2-16, 3-17, 4-23, 5-59, 6-145.
BOWLING (to-date): Lakmal 9-0-28-0; Herath 23-2-85-4; Perera 21-1-69-1; Kumara 11-3-43-1 (1nb, 2w); Mendis 4-0-16-0.
Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2017