Tea Zimbabwe 136 for 6 (Williams 40*, Cremer 11*) and 373 need a further 276 to beat Sri Lanka 537 and 247 for 6 dec.
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Suranga Lakmal’s reverse swing made deep inroads into the Zimbabwe line-up © AFP
Seamer Suranga Lakmal and offspinner Dilruwan Perera wrecked Zimbabwe on the fifth morning, but Sean Williams and Greme Cremer, employing varying methods, boosted Zimbabwe’s hopes of saving the Test, especially with rain in the air. Coming in at 100 for 6 after lunch, Williams and Gremer put on an unbroken 36 runs runs in 19 overs, forcing Sri Lanka to dig deep into their reserves. At tea Zimbabwe were 136 for 6, with still 36 overs remaining in the day. The Zimbabwe dressing room welcomed back its captain and Williams with plenty of backslapping.
Williams needed 21 balls to get off the mark, but hit rhythm by taking three fours off his next 13 balls, including two square cuts. He became more adventurous, sweeping and reverse sweeping Rangana Herath and Dilruwan. Cremer, at the other end, played close to his body with a straight bat and engaged in a blockathon. He waited 53 balls for his first boundary, and endured a nervy moment when he padded up to a straight delivery from Herath. He was struck outside off, with the ball tracker indicating it was missing the off stump. Cremer shook that off and showed resilience, which formed the bedrock of his maiden Test hundred, in Zimbabwe’s first innings.
Zimbabwe’s top and middle order, however, had folded meekly again. From 68 for 1, they lost four wickets for six runs, including two off the second-last over before lunch.
The fifth day’s play began half an hour early to compensate for the overs lost on the fourth day, and Lakmal found swing right away. He alternated between the full and good length areas, and teased the Zimbabwe openers outside off. Once the swing faded, Lakmal peppered the batsmen with short balls from around the wicket with a leg slip, forward short leg, and square leg placed halfway to the boundary.
Full report to follow
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo