Zimbabwe post 406, keep Sri Lanka in check

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Zimbabwe – 406 all out in 90 overs (Sean Williams 107, Sikandar Raza 72, Brendan Taylor 62; Lasith Embuldeniya 4/182, Dhananjaya de Silva 3/71, Suranga Lakmal 2/37)

Sri Lanka – 122-2 in 54 overs (Oshada Fernando 44, Dimuth Karunaratne 44, Kusal Mendis 19*; Donald Tiripano 1/5, Sikandar Raza 1/39)  

Day 2 Stumps: Sri Lanka trail by 284 runs with eight wickets remaining in the first innings

A GOOD opening partnership of 94 between Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando gave the tourists a solid start in their response to Zimbabwe’s first-innings total of 406 in the second Test match at Harare Sports Club.

Zimbabwe began the day with their good first-day score of 352 for six, the resuming batsmen being Regis Chakabva with 31 and Tino Mutombodzi with 10.

Suranga Lakmal opened the bowling to Mutombodzi, who did all the early scoring.

Chakabva played a purely defensive game, but it did him no good, as after 20 minutes without adding to his score he groped forward to a ball from Lasith Embuldeniya and was caught at the wicket, the score then being 362 for seven.

Tiripano began cautiously, but Mutombodzi did not score a run for half an hour, until finally he opened his shoulders and hit Embuldeniya wide of mid-on for four.

Only 26 runs were scored in the first hour’s play, and there was no improvement afterwards against accurate but not particularly difficult bowling.

Eventually Mutombodzi was dismissed for 33, missing a sweep at a straight ball from Dhananjaya de Silva and being given out lbw at 386 for eight.

Eight runs later Donald Tiripano was caught off Embuldeniya at mid-off for 13, and the last man Victor Nyauchi was at the crease when Carl Mumba slogged Embuldeniya powerfully to leg for four to bring up the 400.

Nyauchi hit Lahiru Kumara for four, and the bowler responded with a vicious bouncer that hit him on the grill, scarcely a sporting tactic against a number eleven batsman.

Nyauchi was dismissed for six in the following over, brilliantly caught low down to his right by de Silva at slip off Embuldeniya, and the innings was over for 406, with Mumba not out with 11.

This was Zimbabwe’s highest innings total in Test matches since they scored 412 in Bulawayo against Pakistan in the 2011/12 season.

So Zimbabwe lost their last four wickets for 54 runs in the morning session and it took them almost an hour and three-quarters to get them.

The brief last-wicket partnership had been perhaps the most entertaining of the morning.

Embuldeniya took three of the wickets, and four altogether in the innings, but they cost him 182 runs in 42.3 overs.

De Silva took three wickets for 71 and Lakmal, always the most threatening, two for 37 off 22 overs.

Karunaratne and Fernando opened the Sri Lanka batting against the bowling of Mumba and Sikandar Raza, the latter perhaps to enable Zimbabwe to squeeze in a third over at the openers before lunch.

The tactic almost succeeded, because with the penultimate ball before the break Mumba bowled a superb delivery that moved away from the left-handed Karunaratne, and he almost edged it to the keeper.

After lunch Raza was replaced as bowler by Tiripano, bowling opposite Mumba.

The Sri Lanka openers batted quite freely and without trouble as the bowlers were unable to find assistance from the pitch.

Fernando, the more aggressive of the two, was almost caught down the leg side on 19, Chakabva diving far to his left but just failing to hold a very difficult chance.

Overall Nyauchi was again the best-looking bowler, the only one to give the batsmen much concern regularly.

The bowlers and fielders did a fair job of keeping it tight and the batsmen never dominated, or really tried to do so, but no wicket had fallen by the tea interval; 88 runs were on the board and both batsmen had 40.

After tea they took the score to 94, before at last came a breakthrough: Karunaratne on 44 missed a sweep against Raza and was dismissed lbw.

Raza almost followed this up with the wicket of Mendis at one, when the batsman edged a low chance to the right of Prince Masvaure at short leg, but the fielder was unable to hold it.

Tiripano at this stage was bowling a fine spell of accurate, probing bowling, his first 11 overs costing just five runs.

Fernando, losing patience, flashed at a delivery outside the off stump and edged a straightforward catch to Chakabva behind the stumps for 44; 104 for two.

Soon afterwards, though, Tiripano was rested with remarkable figures of 12 overs, nine maidens for five runs and one wicket.

After bowling so well, he was then unfortunate enough to miss a difficult chance in the deep off Mendis, who had 13 and played a slog-sweep off Raza.

At around four o’clock, however, the light began to deteriorate, and when a light rain began to fall the players had to leave the field with the score on 117 for two.

However it quickly stopped and play resumed within 10 minutes, although the light was poor.

Zimbabwe, wanting to continue play, bowled Mutombodzi and Raza together, but finally the umpires decided it really was too dark to continue at all and play ended at 4.30 with the score 122 for two; Mendis had 19 and Matthews four.

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