Herath strikes leave Zimbabwe in a muddle

Lunch Zimbabwe 210 for 5 (Wiliams 40*, Herath 4-69) trail Sri Lanka 504 by 294 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Sean Williams has hit six fours in his knock so far © Associated Press

Sri Lanka were left to relish not just a hearty lunch, but also the prospects of enforcing the follow-on against Zimbabwe, however unlikely, on day three of the second Test in Harare. An unorthodox approach that bordered on trying to take the spinners on resulted in Zimbabwe losing three wickets as they stumbled from their overnight 126 for 2 to 210 for 5 at lunch, still trailing Sri Lanka by 294 runs.

On a surface that seemed to be at its best for batting, Zimbabwe didn’t do themselves any favours with their shot selection. There were flashy drives that flew either over or wide of the slip cordon, hard jabs against Rangana Herath that lobbed to silly point, inside-edges that fell safe, an audacious attempt to reverse sweep that hit the forearm and many other pokes to away-going deliveries that missed the edge.

Craig Ervine was the first to fall, when he poked an away-going delivery from Suranga Lakmal to Dimuth Karunaratne at second slip in the seventh over, to break a 117-run stand. It followed a narrow escape in the previous over, when he was given out attempting a reverse sweep, only to be reprieved by the DRS. Then it was Brian Chari’s turn. Overnight on 60, Chari, more circumspect of the two, significantly mellowed down and kept stabbing forward with his bat well in front of the pad. In trying to counter spin, he missed an arm-ball that sneaked through to hit the stumps.

Things could have been much worse had Kusal Perera not reprieved Sean Williams 29. He stepped out to Dilruwan Perera, only to be deceived in flight as the ball spun away to beat the edge. Kusal, in his eagerness to remove the bails, failed to gather the ball cleanly. The timing of that, just 15 minutes before lunch, didn’t however stop the batsmen from playing their shots. Malcolm Waller was guilty of throwing his wicket away in the last over before the break when he went with hard hands to drive Herath, only to spoon a low catch to cover.

Predictably, spin dominated proceedings with Herath and Dilruwan trying to exploit the rough patches from where the odd ball spun. While Chari was circumspect, Ervine was the initial aggressor as Zimbabwe’s attempt to drive the game forward resulted in a few boundaries that flew off edges. Against spin though, he was largely orthodox, using his feet to either go through with the shot or get outside the line to eliminate the lbw and sweep along the ground. One wicket is all it took, however, for Zimbabwe’s batsmen to suddenly play with self-doubts as a measured approach gave way to attempts to throw the bowlers off their mark, which could hurt them in their quest to save the follow-on and perhaps even the match.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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