Taylor hits fifty before rain dampens Zimbabwe’s charge

Zimbabwe – 406 and 241-7 in 74.5 overs (Brendan Taylor 67, Sean Williams 47*, Prince Masvaure 35; Vishwa Fernando 2/43, Lasith Embuldeniya 2/81, Suranga Lakmal 1/28)

Sri Lanka – 293 all out in 119.5 overs (Angelo Mathews 64, Oshada Fernando 44, Dimuth Karunaratne 44; Sikandar Raza 7/113, Donald Tiripano 1/30, Victor Nyauchi 1/40)  

Day 4 Stumps: Zimbabwe lead by 354 runs with three wickets remaining

A DAZZLING innings of 67 by Brendan Taylor was the highlight of the fourth day’s play in the second Test match against Sri Lanka at Harare Sports Club today, as Zimbabwe continued to build up a good second-innings total as they hope to win the match and square the series.

Zimbabwe began the fourth day in the happy position of being 175 runs ahead in their second innings, on 62 for one, with nine wickets still in hand; the batsmen in occupation were Prince Masvaure with 26 and Regis Chakabva with 14.

Chakabva was able to add only a single to his score before he was deceived and caught at slip off the left-arm spinner, Lasith Embuldeniya, at 64 for two.

Taylor came in and immediately started to exert his dominance over the spinner, taking fours past square leg and with two reverse sweeps in the following over.

This forced the spinner’s removal from the attack, and Vishwa Fernando took over.

As the batsmen continued to thrive, though, Embuldeniya was brought back, and Taylor on 30 gave a rather difficult chance to the fielder near the extra-cover boundary, who completely misjudged it.

Not long afterwards, however, there was a mix-up in running between the batsmen, and Masvaure, who had attempted a risky second run, was run out at the bowler’s end for 35; 111 for three.

Taylor shortly afterwards reached his fifty off 54 balls, but then lost Timycen Maruma, the concussion substitute for Kevin Kasuza.

Maruma faced 14 balls, but was unable to score before he was tempted forward to drive by a flighted ball from Embuldeniya, and stumped.

Taylor continued his dashing form, making 67 off 75 balls, but was unfortunate to be given out lbw to Lahiru Kumara by umpire Nitin Menon, as it appeared to be going down the leg side and Taylor seemed to think he had hit it.

On the whole, though, the umpires in this series have done an excellent job and there have been very few errors.

Zimbabwe were now 151 for five wickets, a lead of 264, as Sean Williams joined Sikandar Raza, who had made a quiet start to his innings.

At the lunch interval Zimbabwe were 179 for five, with Raza on 17 and Williams 15; their lead was now 292.

Afterwards the two batsmen continued their partnership at a good rate of almost four an over before Raza was given out lbw to Fernando for 34 at 221 for six, although the ball pitched outside leg stump.

Tino Mutombodzi came in and Williams scored another single to take his score to 40, but at this point a shower of rain stopped play.

A light but steady rain continued for about an hour, but mopping-up operations began before three o’clock.

Play finally resumed at 3.45, and was likely to continue just as long as the light permitted.

Williams and Mutombodzi were soon busy keeping the board ticking over, knowing the loss of time and the possibility of more rain added urgency to their game if they were to win.

Mutombodzi on three was dropped low at slip by Angelo Mathews off Suranga Lakmal, but he only made eight, when Lakmal bowled him leg stump as he tried to turn a straight ball on the leg side; 240 for seven.

Donald Tiripano scored a single, but then the umpires took the players off the field for bad light.

But it made little difference because a few minutes later rain began again, the covers were brought on and play ended for the day.

The rain will make it more difficult for Zimbabwe to win the match tomorrow, especially if there is more rain.

Probably they will declare at their overnight score, leaving Sri Lanka to make 355 to win, and at a required run rate of about four an over, they are hardly likely to attempt this, but to play for a draw and thus win the series.