Brave Zimbabwe make Sri Lanka work
Zimbabwe came within 8 overs of saving the first Test against Sri Lanka in Harare but were bowled out for 186 to hand the visitors a 225 run win.
Tasked with batting for 98 overs Zimbabwe managed to use up 90 overs and three balls before Dilruwan Perera bowled Christopher Mpofu to seal the win for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka declared overnight and day five was all about their efforts to pry out the stubborn Zimbabwe batsmen.
The first session started well enough for the hosts as Brian Chari and Tino Mawoyo used up 16.4 overs to put on 31 for the opening wicket.
Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza took Zimbabwe to the brink of lunch before the fall of the former prompted a mini collapse from the hosts.
Mawoyo (37), Craig Ervine (0), Masakadza (20) and Malcolm Waller (0) fell in the space of five overs to leave the hosts reeling at 74/5 at lunch.
Dilruwan and Suranga Lakmal claimed a brace of wickets each in the morning session.
Zimbabwe lost Peter Moor (7) shortly after lunch and things looked bleak at 100/6.
Sean Williams and captain Graeme Cremer would then reignite Zimbabwe’s hopes of salvaging a draw as the pair took Zimbabwe to the tea break without further loss.
The score had long become immaterial for the hosts but they took tea on 136/6.
The final session become a battle of attrition with a determined Zimbabwe team frustrating Sri Lanka.
Williams (40) fell in the first over after the break with skipper Rangana Herath picking up the key wicket.
Donald Tiripano spent 21 balls at the crease but failed to get off the mark when he departed Zimbabwe had two wickets in hand and 29.5 overs to bat.
Cremer and debutant Carl Mumba would bat for 19.1 of those overs and get the hosts agonizingly close to a morale boosting draw but the skipper couldn’t see it through as he suffered a rush of blood to the head and came down the track to Herath only to miss the ball and be stumped.
Mumba and Mpofu did all they could but 10 and 11 couldn’t save Zimbabwe and Dilruwan wrapped up the match when he bowled the latter.
Zimbabwe will take a lot of positives from the way they kept pushing Sri Lanka and the batting of captain Cremer who scored a maiden Test ton in the first innings was a huge bonus.
Sri Lanka won’t be too thrilled with this performance and will be looking to be far more clinical in the second Test to be played at the same venue.
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