A strong middle-order performance led by Sean Williams' sparkling century gave Zimbabwe the honours on the opening day of the second and final Test against Sri Lanka at Harare. Williams put on a frenetic 159-run partnership with Sikander Raza to shift the fortunes drastically towards the hosts after they had threatened to implode at one point, having slipped to 133/4. The partnership first set their base with a good mix of caution and aggression to get to the tea break and then went up a gear in the final session.
After a comparatively sedate start, Raza also expressed himself freely post-tea with some eye-catching strokes. Raza had a century for the taking but a passage of over-aggression did him in, as he went for an aerial pull to a delivery that wasn't all that short. Williams brought up second Test hundred in style with an aggressive sweep off spinner Lasith Embuldeniya that went for a boundary. It was symbolic of how the southpaw played his innings that had 10 fours and three sixes sprinkled in it.
The ultra-positive mindset eventually brought about Williams' downfall, as he missed the slog sweep off a shooter from Dhananjaya de Silva to be cleaned up. Losing the two set batsmen within a 30-minute period did dent Zimbabwe but Regis Chakabva and Tinotenda Mutombodzi got stuck in together to deny Sri Lanka further inroads. For the sheer volume of runs scored in the day, Zimbabwe would clearly be the happier side after winning the toss on a fairly conventional Harare surface.
Sri Lanka's bowlers were accurate to start off with, but that had a lot to do with the over-defensive mindset of Zimbabwe's openers. The biggest let-down for Dimuth Karunaratne's men would be the bowling display from their spin duo who leaked 220 runs between them from just 44 overs at a shocking economy rate of 5 RPO. All the Zimbabwe batsmen handled them well, using their feet and the sweep shot to good effect to disrupt the rhythm of the spinners.
Once Brendan Taylor set up a template on how to bat on this track, the rest followed it up. In terms of wickets, the visitors were somewhere near where they wanted to be, but ended up leaking far too many runs for their liking. Considering that the pitch has already had bouts of low bounce on its opening day itself, it's fair to say that Zimbabwe are off to an encouraging start.
Brief scores: Zimbabwe 352/6 (Williams 107, Raza 72, Lakmal 2-31)