Taylor anchored Zimbabwe's innings with a fine fifty
Zimbabwe are in control of the second Test match against Sri Lanka. That they are not overwhelming favourites to level the series is down to the city's weather - that has not shown the same enthusiasm to the return of Test cricket in the country as their cricketers have. Zimbabwe's push for victory on the fourth day of the Test was quelled by two cloud bursts either side of the Tea interval, the rains allowing only 54 overs of play.
To Zimbabwe's credit, they did exceedingly well in the period that play was possible, with Brendan Taylor scoring 67 of the 179 runs they managed in the day. That stretched their lead to 354 but the rains have meant, they haven't been able to insert Sri Lanka into bat late in the evening and prize out a wicket or two. An overnight declaration is highly likely but now Zimbabwe will have 98 overs - weather permitting - to pick up the win, which on paper is not bad, but it could have been so much better.
The hosts didn't enjoy the best of starts to the extended opening session - to compensate for the loss of play last night - with Lasith Embuldeniya taking out Regis Chakabva in his second over of the morning. But as it turned out, that dismissal brought in Taylor, a player who has enjoyed considerable success against Sri Lanka's left-arm spinner. Taylor though took full toll of his head-to-head advantage, pulling out the sweep off his second delivery. In Embuldeniya's next, Taylor used both a reverse swat and a reverse sweep, those two boundaries injecting much-needed early momentum into the Zimbabwe innings.
Sri Lanka were quick to acknowledge this 1v1 dynamic and quickly brought on Vishwa Fernando into the attack, even though Embuldeniya could so easily point at the drop catch by Fernando for his failure against Taylor. The Zimbabwe batter though kept finding the boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking even as Prince Masvaure played on as a passive partner. By Drinks in the first session, the pair had added 37 with Taylor scoring 30 off 38 deliveries. Eventually, it was a miscommunication that ended the association, with Masvaure looking for a non-existent second run and falling short at the non-striker's end when sent back.
Timycen Maruma fell for a 14-ball duck but Taylor maintained the tempo, hitting a four of Embuldeniya and a six off Fernando while passing 2000 Test runs in the process. He completed a crucial half-century but was given out LBW towards the end of the session - one of two dubious decision from umpire Nitin Menon - when it appeared that Taylor had possibly inside-edged the Lahiru Kumara delivery on to his pads. Sri Lanka sensed a window of an opening but senior pros Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams kept them a bay with another 70-run stand that the captain dominated with a series of hits to the fence.
Zimbabwe's lead had swelled to 292 by Lunch. They pushed it to 335 in the first hour after the interval when the heavens first opened. After nearly two hours of delay, the players returned for a five overs before bad light and more rain put paid to Zimbabwe's grand declaration plans.
Brief scores: Zimbabwe 406 & 241/7 (Brendan Taylor 67, Sean Williams 47*; Lasith Embuldeniya 2-57) lead Sri Lanka 293 by 335 runs. (cricbuzz)