Silva cruises on as Zimbabwe continue toil

Lunch Sri Lanka 91 for 0 (Silva 49*, Karunaratne 42*) v Zimbabwe
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Kaushal Silva struck eight boundaries in his unbeaten 49 © Associated Press

Sri Lanka’s openers may have worn the widest smiles on their journey to Zimbabwe. In their home series against Australia, Sri Lanka’s opening stands amounted to 27 in six innings, an average of 4.5. In their first Test since that series, Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva made use of a docile Harare surface to pile on an unbeaten 91-run opening stand in 29 overs against a harmless attack.

Karunaratne was repeatedly dismissed in the same fashion against Australia: playing around his front pad and missing Mitchell Starc’s straight deliveries. He fell over against Zimbabwe’s accurate seamers too, but was able to manipulate the midwicket region because of the difference in pace. A slow pitch did not help the bowlers either: the pitch got gradually easier to bat on as the session wore on.

Silva was typically staunch in defense and capitalised on the occasional short or overpitched delivery. After a slow start, Silva found his run-scoring rhythm towards the latter part of the session. He struck eight boundaries in his unbeaten 49, most of which came via errant lines. Karunaratne, too, was the beneficiary of loose bowling on both sides of the pitch.

Zimbabwe’s seamers extracted enough from the surface and in the air in the first hour, but Sri Lanka’s openers were disciplined. Many deliveries were left alone and a few even beat the bat. After the drinks break, though, lateral movement ceased and the openers made use of the conditions.

Sri Lanka’s success may not have been had Sean Williams held on to a sharp chance at gully in the second over of the day. Debutant Carl Mumba pitched his first ball on middle and got it to swerve away just enough to take the shoulder of Karunaratne’s bat. Williams backtracked but couldn’t cling on to his overhead one-handed attempt.

Zimbabwe’s only chance arose when Silva missed a full and straight inswinger from Donald Tiripano. Umpire Simon Fry said not out immediately, but replays indicated the ball was only clipping the top of leg stump.

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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