Sri Lanka rue missed opportunities


Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath remains confident his team can beat Zimbabwe but admits they should be in a much better position.

On both of the first two days Sri Lanka started strongly before allowing Zimbabwe to fight back and take control.

Day one saw a brilliant lone hand century from Craig Ervine that helped the visitors get past 300 after Sri Lanka had made early inroads.

On day two Sri Lanka wrapped up the tail cheaply and started well with the bat only to implode with Graeme Cremer bowling well and Sri Lanka suffering from some poor decisions.

Herath joined Asela Gunaratne late in the day with Sri Lanka seven down and managed to see things through to the close but the pair have much to do to cut down Zimbabwe’s first innings lead.

The veteran spinner said after play on day two: “If we can get to 350 or 400 – even get a first-innings lead of about 50, that would be good.

“But if we can’t manage that, we have to get them out cheaply in the second innings. Batting fourth on this track won’t be easy. We’ve got two spinners in the XI, so I think we’ll be able to get them out for an average score or below. But right now, I think we should have been in a better position than this.”

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Herath opined that the pitch will get tougher to bat on as it dries out having already deteriorated much in two days.

He went on:  “If you take yesterday and today, the pitch is drier now than it was.

“I think that’s the nature of the surface – that will be there tomorrow and the day after. The next three days will be good for the spinners, I think.

“We got a good start, but after that Cremer bowled really well. The balls to get Kusal and Chandimal were very good balls. When you get those kinds of deliveries, the chances of getting out are high.”

Sri Lanka will be one bowler down in the second innings with allrounder Gunaratne doing his hamstring in the field.

He was able to bat but visibly struggled and will not take to the field in the second innings.

Herath feels that Kusal Mendis could offer another option if the Zimbabwe innings draws on.

He said: “With the state his hamstring is in, I don’t think Asela will be able to bowl or field tomorrow.

“We are also trying to keep him fit for the India tour that’s coming up soon. If he is unable to bowl, it’s me, Dilruwan Perera and the two quicks who are left in the attack. Kusal Mendis has also taken a wicket in a Test in Zimbabwe, so he might be an option for the captain as well.”

Herath put the inconsistent performance of the team down to its inexperience adding: “It’s not like we don’t have the talent. We do. But we haven’t been able to showcase those skills over a long period of time.

“After the Australia tour last year, we lost the South Africa series. Later, we lost to Bangladesh. It’s that lack of consistent performance. We’ve got a young team with only three or four experienced hands, and we can’t expect the older players to do everything. We have to give the young players experience, and they should also know how to make use of those opportunities.”