by Champika Fernando
As stumps were drawn at Kettarama on day two of the one-off Test against Zimbabwe, Sri Lankan batsmen may rue their failure to convert starts into big scores to provide a solid platform for an imposing total in their first innings.
After picking Zimbabwe’s remaining two wickets inside five overs to end Zimbabwe’s innings on 356, Sri Lanka began positively largely thanks to a scrumptious half-century from Upul Tharanga but visitors struck at crucial moments to break the momentum. At stumps on day two Sri Lanka were 293 for the loss of seven wickets, trailed by 63 runs.
Tharanga (71), skipper Dinesh Chandimal (55), Angelo Mathews (41) and Dilruwan Perera (33) got the starts but failed to convert them big as Sri Lanka left reeling against a team that has enjoyed little success in the longer format in recent years.
After the a steady opening stand of 84 between Tharanga and Dimuth Karunaratne, new Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews steadied the ship with a valuable 96 for the fourth wicket between them, but Zimbabwe bowlers ripped through the Sri Lankan innings picking wickets at regular intervals to put hosts under tremendous pressure.
“We need to erase the deficit and put as many runs as possible in order to put pressure back on them,” Rangana Herath said at the post match press conference. “The wicket is turning and it will be the same during the next few days.
Sri Lanka did everything right before the lunch break–picked up the two remaining wickets conceding just 12 runs and then added 77 runs without a loss but in between lunch and tea they were chaotic. Sri Lanka lost three wickets during the second session, including well set Upul Tharanga as Sri Lanka took tea at 184 for the loss of three wickets.
Sri Lanka’s slide began after tea when Dimuth Karunaratne attempted to cut a ball angled into him by Donald Tiripano only to be brilliantly caught by Hamilton Masakadza at first slip, who barely had any time to react at first slip. Karunaratne departed for 25 ending a steady opening stand and was soon followed by Kusal Mendis who edged a turning delivery from leg-spinner Graeme Cremer to the wicket-keeper.
Tharanga was in superb form in his breezy half-century and looked set for a long inning but had to take the long walk back to the pavilion when he was run out at the non-strikers end with bowler Tiripano getting the fingertips to the ball driven by Dinesh Chandimal on its way to hit the stumps.
Though his boot was on the crease which belongs to the umpire, he had not bothered to ground the bat and paid the price. That ended a flourishing innings from a man who entertained the sparsely crowd with some beautiful shots around the ground.
With Tharanga departed, Angelo Mathews joined skipper Chandimal in the middle and together they consolidated the innings before Chandimal became Cremer’s second victim when he edged Cremer to the wicket-keeper Regis Chakabva. Cremer claimed his third when Niroshan Dickwella had his stumps rattled when he attempted to cut as a thick inside edge cannoned into the stumps. With wickets tumbling at one-end and the pitch slowing down giving sharp turn and bounce, it was all left to former skipper Mathews to bring some respectability to the innings. But he departed when he attempted to sweep off Sean Williams where the top edged flew down to legs-side of the keeper. Masakadza who was fielding at first slips ran to his left and pounced the ball ending Mathews 104-ball innings. Dilruwan Perera who was promoted ahead of Asela Gunaratne who is battling with a hamstring injury made a quick-fire 33 before being run out. At crease were Rangana Herath on 5 and Asela Gunaratne on 23. Gunaratne is unlikely to field in the second innings.
Earlier Rangana Herath claimed his 30th five-wicket haul to bowl out Zimbabwe for 356 in their first innings.
Sri Lanka needed just 4.4 overs to pick the remaining two wickets after Zimbabwe took day one honours reaching 344 for the loss of nine wickets.
Herath removed Donald Tiripano for a well-made 27 with the penultimate over of his second over of the day while seamer Lahiru Kumara removed centurion Craig Ervine five balls later to end Ervine’s long resistance.
Ervine had added nine more to his overnight score of 151—his career best performance when he was caught off at third man by Dilruwan Perera when the batsmen attempted to sail the ball over third man boundary.
Sri Lanka look for first innings lead-Herath
Spinner Rangana Herath who claimed his 30th five-wicket haul in Test cricket on Saturday admitted hosts got a tough job at hand to win the one-off Test after Zimbabwe restricted Sri Lanka to 293 for seven on day two- a first innings deficit of 63 runs.
“We have to try get as many as we can from now,” Herath said at the post match press conference. “If we can get to 350 or 400 – even get a 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.
Despite a mammoth 160 from Craig Ervine, Sri Lanka restricted Zimbabwe for 356 largely thanks to the five wicket haul of Herath but their batsmen failed to convert starts to big scores as Sri Lanka left reeling at 293 for seven at stumps.
“We got a good start through Upul and Dimuth. After that Cremer bowled really well. The balls to get Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal were very good balls. When you get those kinds of deliveries, the chances of getting out are high. But right now I think we should have been in a better position than this – we’re still about 63 runs behind. We need to get those 63 or more to get to a good place in the match,” he added.
Meanwhile Herath said allrounder Asela Gunaratne, though remains in the crease will not play a further part in the second innings after injuring his hamstring.
“I don’t think he’ll 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 and the two quicks who are left in the attack,” he added.
Zimbabwe first innings (overnight 344 for 8) 356 (C Ervine 160, S Raza 36, M Waller 36, D Tiripano 27; Rangana Herath 5-116, A Gunaratne 2-28, Lahiru Kumara 2 for 68)
Sri Lanka first innings
Dimuth Karunaratne ct Mazakadza b Tiripano 25
(Short, slashes hard, gets a thick edge to first slip)
Upul Tharanga run out 71
Kusal Mendis ct Chakabva b Cremer 11
Dinesh Chandimal ct Chakabva b Creamer 55
Angelo Mathews c Mazakadza b Williams 41
Niroshan Dickwella b Cremer 6
Dilruwan Perera run out 33
Asela Gunaratne not out 24
Rangana Herath not out 5
Extras (b8, lb10, w1, nb3) 22
Total (7 wickets, 83 overs) 293
Fall of wicket: 1-84, 2-107, 3-116, 4-212, 5-226, 6-238, 7-274
To bat: S. Lakmal, L. Kumara
Bowling: C. Mpofu11-2-41-0, D. Tiripano 10-1-38-1, S. Raza 18-2-60-0, G. Cremer 30-3-100-3, M. Waller 1-0-2-0, S Williams 13-1-34-1
Left-arm spinner Herath finished as the most successful bowler with four wickets for 106 Sri Lanka, who were playing the first match under new test captain Dinesh Chandimal.
Zimbabwe 1st innings
H. Masakadza c K. Mendis b Herath 19
R. Chakabva b Herath 12
T. Musakanda c Dickwella b Kumara 6
C. Ervine not out 151
S. Williams c Gunaratne b D. Perera 22
S. Raza lbw b Herath 36
P. Moor c Kumara b Gunaratne 19
M. Waller b Herath 36
G. Cremer b Gunaratne 13
D. Tiripano not out 24
Extras (nb-5 w-1) 6
Total (for 8 wickets, 90 overs) 344
Fall of wickets: 1-23 R. Chakabva,2-38 H. Masakadza,3-38 T. Musakanda,4-70 S. Williams,5-154 S. Raza,6-195 P. Moor,7-260 M. Waller,8-282 G. Cremer
To bat: C. Mpofu
Bowling: Suranga Lakmal 14 - 1 - 58 – 0, Lahiru Kumara 15 - 2 - 66 - 1(w-1), Rangana Herath 30 - 4 - 106 – 4, Dilruwan Perera 24 - 0 - 86 - 1(nb-1) Asela Gunaratne 7 - 0 - 28 - 2(nb-4)
Sri Lanka: 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Asela Gunaratne, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Suranga Lakmal, 11 Lahiru Kumara.
Zimbabwe: 1 Regis Chakabva, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Tarisai Musakanda, 4 Craig Ervine, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Sikander Raza, 7 Malcolm Waller, 8 Peter Moor (wk), 9 Graeme Cremer (capt.), 10 Chris Mpofu, 11 Donald Tiripano.
Dinesh Chandimal speaks to Mirror Cricket about his future plans , Watch the Video
Sri Lanka are looking to usher in Dinesh Chandimal's era as skipper by bouncing back from a humiliating ODI series defeat to Zimbabwe with victory in the Test starting Friday.
Chandimal will lead the islanders in a Test for the first time after Angelo Mathews resigned Wednesday following Sri Lanka's shock 3-2 series loss to the cricketing minnows.
The 27-year-old Chandimal has long been earmarked for the captaincy and Sri Lanka's cricket board hope his elevation will spark an upturn in fortunes for the demoralised side.
“I am passionate about leading the side and I want to take this team forward and improve our rankings,” Chandimal told reporters on Wednesday ahead of Friday's one-off Test at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium.
“We had a lot of ups and downs in the past year. But we have good young and older players,” added the right-handed batsman, a former captain of Sri Lanka's T20 and ODI teams.
WATCH THE VIDEO -
Courtesy : Ada
Sri Lanka, ranked seventh in Test cricket, hope victory can be the start of rebuilding their reputation. Their loss to Zimbabwe followed a fitness and coaching crisis and an early departure from the Champions Trophy.
Left hander Danushka Gunathilaka, who did well in the ODI series, is expected to make his Test debut by opening the batting with the experienced Dimuth Karunaratne.
Fast bowler Vishwa Fernando is also in the squad while Rangana Herath, who has picked up 373 Test wickets, and Dilruwan Perera will lead their spin attack after not featuring in the ODIs.
A fired-up Zimbabwe will be hoping to maintain their momentum with Hamilton Masakadza, who was named Player of the Series in the ODI tournament, likely to be the main source of their runs.
But beating Sri Lanka in a Test match poses a far greater challenge than the ODI series for the inexperienced Zimbabweans.
Masakadza, with 32 Test caps, is their only player to feature in more than 20 Test matches. And they will be aware that at the same ground 20 years ago Sri Lanka posted a world Test record score of 952 for 6 against India.
“This tour has been very special for us. Now we must do well in the Test match to finish off the tour on a high note,” said Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer who will be able to call upon promising leg-spinner Natsai M'shangwe.
Sri Lanka (from): Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara.
Zimbabwe (from): Graeme Cremer (captain), Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Peter Moor, Chris Mpofu, Carl Mumba, Tarisai Musakanda, Natsai M'shangwe, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Malcolm Waller, Nathan Waller, Sean Williams.
Umpires: Ian Gould (ENG) and Nigel Llong (ENG) Third Umpire: Chettithody Shamshuddin (IND)