Mawoyo, Masakadza fluent after Sri Lanka amass 537

Stumps Zimbabwe 88 for 1 (Mawoyo 41*, Masakadza 33*) trail Sri Lanka 537 (Tharanga 110*, Perera 110, Cremer 4-142) by 449 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Upul Tharanga anchored Sri Lanka’s innings with an unbeaten 110 © AFP

For a brief period on the second morning, Zimbabwe made run-scoring look strenuous. For the rest of the day, Sri Lanka’s batsmen enjoyed a placid Harare surface and a tiring bowling attack to pile on 537. Upul Tharanga, displaying admirable patience, reaped the most rewards on the second day to score to his second Test ton, an unbeaten 110.

In reply, Zimbabwe’s batsmen had to survive a tricky 23 overs before stumps. They were positive from the outset, particularly against Rangana Herath, and finished the second day at 88 for 1. The batsmen regularly shimmied down the track and opted to sweep even if they misread the length.

There wasn’t much turn for either Herath or Dilruwan Perera; most deliveries skidded on with the arm. One such delivery from Herath rapped opener Brian Chari on the pad in front of leg. Umpire Simon Fry raised the finger but it seemed the ball may have been heading down leg with the angle. Hamilton Masakadza was dropped at first slip by Dimuth Karunaratne off Suranga Lakmal in the seventh over, a relatively simple chance at shoulder height. Subsequently, Tino Mawoyo and Masakadza ensured there were no other flutters and ended not out on 41 and 33 respectively.

Tharanga had earlier dominated the day, milking the bowling for the majority of his innings and capitalising on anything short with cuts and dabs behind square on the off side. With legspinner Graeme Cremer blocking that option by bowling a fuller length, Tharanga chose to sweep, including a lofted heave over midwicket to bring up his fifty. Once he was set, the drives came out and their timing was excellent.

Tharanga was assisted by debutant Asela Gunaratne who auditioned for a regular spot in the Test squad with 54 off 102 balls, compiled with a compact technique and an ability to manoeuvre the field. A tight channel just outside off didn’t work against him: he often opened the face to steer boundaries either side of gully.

But, soon after becoming the 18th Sri Lankan batsman to score a fifty on his Test debut, Gunaratne misjudged the length of a short delivery from left-arm spinner Sean Williams. A leading edge off an attempted pull was taken at midwicket.

Zimbabwe were sloppy in the field again: Peter Moor missed a stumping and dropped two more catches, in addition to his two spills on the first day. Tharanga was given a life when he checked a drive off Donald Tiripano, but Tino Mawoyo at cover could not hold on to a catch low to his left.

Zimbabwe were much better in the morning though. Seamers Chris Mpofu and Mumba began the day by keeping the ball well outside the off stump and asking overnight batsmen Tharanga and Dhananjaya de Silva to play away from their body if they wanted runs. The batsmen were content in seeing off their opening spell though and only occasionally wafted at the bowlers’ invitingly wide deliveries.

In their recent Test series against New Zealand, Zimbabwe’s bowlers displayed competence in consistency but weren’t able to ‘bore’ batsmen for long enough. Newly-appointed coach Heath Streak may have already turned that around. Barring the sporadic overpitched delivery, the bowlers repeatedly hit the same lines and lengths which meant Zimbabwe conceded only 50 runs in the first 24 overs of the morning. And that led to De Silva, on 15 runs in 55 balls, to step out to Cremer. He failed to get to the pitch of the ball, went through with the stroke and ended up skewing a catch long-off. Zimbabwe had created a wicket, their only one in the morning session.

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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