Sri Lanka claim series through Mendis-led draw

31 January 2020 08:45 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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At the tea break, a Zimbabwe win was extremely unlikely, given that they needed another seven wickets from a minimum of 29 overs left. Given the largely placid nature of the track and its slowness, it needed a miracle for the hosts. However, Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal remained unseparated for a major part of the final session, forcing the two captains to shake hands with another nine overs left to play. The result also meant that Sri Lanka pocketed the two-match series 1-0 by virtue of their 10-wicket win in the first Test.

As docile as the track was for a fifth day, Mendis deserved accolades for being rock-solid, playing with positive intent, be it in attack or defence. His partners also chipped in. They may not have scored a lot of runs but did what was required - consume deliveries. While it was a difficult track to get a cluster of wickets, it was also not a surface where a team could score 350-plus in a day. Therefore, Sri Lanka's approach of playing for a draw made sense, more so due to the 1-0 lead they were having.

If Mendis' association with Angelo Mathews ate up 139 deliveries, the stand with Dinesh Chandimal gobbled up 154 balls. The opener got to the deserved three-figure mark in the final session and this was the only matter of interest really, given that the result had started to become a foregone conclusion. Zimbabwe's bowlers tried hard but just didn't have the x-factor in their attack to blast out batsmen - a quality that the surface seemed to demand. They stuck to reasonable lines and lengths but there wasn't a threatening period of play.

Still, it must be said that Zimbabwe responded well after the shock defeat in the opening Test. Brendan Taylor compiled twin fifties, Sean Williams had a ton and fifty himself while Sikander Raza registered a half-century and a seven-wicket haul. The trio led the hosts' charge for a win that wasn't to be in the end. Sri Lanka weren't at their best with the ball on day one and were also underwhelming with the bat in the first innings. But Mathews' fifty and his stand with Dhananjaya de Silva ensured that the follow-on was avoided.

Once that happened, time started to be a factor in the result and with rain intervening, more so on day four, the Lankans had pretty much done enough to harbour hopes of a draw. Of course, they still had to bat out the 96 overs on day five, and they did that with aplomb, thanks to the combined stonewalling from their batsmen led by the impressive Mendis century. Zimbabwe will rue that session of madness in the opening game, which eventually proved to be decisive.

Brief scores: Zimbabwe 406 (Williams 107, Raza 72) and 247/7 declared (Taylor 67, Williams 53*, Fernando 2-43) drew with Sri Lanka 293 (Mathews 64, Raza 7-113) and 204/3 (Mendis 116*, Fernando 47)

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