Living Dangerously

Published : 9:01 am  July 17, 2017 | No comments so far |  |  (74) reads | 

SL face daunting challenge as Zimbabwe take upper hand   

By Shehan Daniel

A day which started brightly for Sri Lanka slowly turned dour by stumps as Sikandar Raza closed in on his first Test century but more importantly put Zimbabwe in a strong position on the third day of the only Test at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday.Sri Lanka had Zimbabwe at their mercy on 59 for 5 early in the second session, but that was before Raza led a fightback with partnerships of 86, for the sixth wicket with Peter Moor, and an unbroken 107 with Malcolm Waller.

Zimbabwe ended the day on 252 for 6 with Raza on 97, having seen Zimbabwe’s lead go from 33 when he walked into bat, to 262 at stumps, with Waller, who looked comfortable, on 57.

With the possibility of the game ending within the day hovering like a low-hanging fruit,Raza played himself in scoring just one boundary in his first 42 balls but still chalking 31 runs.

It was then that he showed his first real signs of aggression when, the very next ball, he reverse swept Rangana Herath for a boundary at the start of the 32nd over which also took his partnership with Moor beyond the 50-run mark.Two more boundaries followed in that over, with it putting Herath out of the attack for the next 12 overs.It was Lahiru Kumara who finally broke that partnership with the first ball of his second spell, the 41st over, when Moor pulled his short ball towards the square leg boundary, but straight to substitute fielder Danushka Gunathilaka, for 40.From there, Sri Lanka were left searching for a breakthrough with Waller proving just as combative and then taking his partnership with Raza past 100 in the penultimate over of day’s play.    Waller reached his fourth Test half-century in just 54 balls, with eight boundaries, before laying down anchor to take Zimbabwe to stumps in control of the game.

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Sikandar Raza spearheaded the Zimbabwe fightback and remained unbeaten on 97 at stumps – Pictures by Kushan Pathiraja

 

Sri Lanka’s first order of the day was to wipe out the 63-run first innings deficit, and overnight pair Herath and Asela Gunaratne added 29 runs before the former was stumped in the eighth over of play.    Herath, having overturned a leg before wicket decision in the previous delivery, charged Sean Williams and was beaten, with wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva finding enough time to fumble the ball twice before breaking the stumps.DM_20170717_A010-1

Lakmal added some quick runs, 14 off 20 balls, before he played the wrong line and returned a leading edge to bowler Graeme Cremer, leaving Sri Lanka dangerously close to finishing their innings with arrears, on 343 for 9.

Gunaratne monopolised the strike but struggled to keep the score moving – his last wicket partnership with Lahiru Kumara bringing just three runs in six overs – with Sri Lanka still 10 runs behind when he dragged Cremer onto his stumps, giving the Zimbabwean captain his first five-wicket haul for 125 runs.

Herath removed Zimbabwe’s top three batsmen for 17 runs, all in the space of five overs before lunch, and then took his fourth wicket soon after the break when the ball spat sharply through the gap between Williams’ bat and pad, and onto his stumps – the visitors on 59 for 5 at that stage.

In between Dilruwan Perera had brought the first session to a close with the wicket of first innings centurion Craig Ervine.   
With the first ball of his second over, Herath beat Chakabva’s defence and took his off-stump, before having a charging Tarisai Musakanda caught at first slip by Dimuth Karunaratne in his next over.

 

Hamilton Masakadza’s attempted sweep missed the ball completely, which hit him on the back leg which umpire Ian Gould adjudged would go on to hit the stumps.    Masakadza reviewed, and while there was an element of uncertainty on whether the ball hit the batsman’s glove along the way, with no conclusive evidence to overturn the decision the review was struck down.

Dilruwan Perera then struck when Ervine was caught dabbing the ball to first slip, at which lunch was taken with Zimbabwe on 23 for 4.