BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Zimbabwe 358 all-out, Sri Lanka 295/4* (106 ov) — Sri Lanka trail by 63 runs with 6 wickets remaining in the 1st innings.
Debutant Victor Nyauchi was the pick of the bowlers after he took two wickets for 38 with Sri Lanka dominating day three of the first Test match of the series with the bat at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Kusal Mendis struck a solid 80 runs, while veteran Angelo Matthews was unbeaten on 92 at stumps, the visitors closing the day on 295/4 and 63 runs behind Zimbabwe’s first innings total.
After beginning the day on 42/1, Sri Lanka plundered 253 runs on a batsman friendly track buoyed by 92-run third wicket stand between Mendis and Matthews.
But while Zimbabwe bowlers toiled for wickets, Mountaineers pacer Nyauchi opened his international account with the ball on debut finishing the day with figures of 2 for 38 runs in 22 overs.
Sri Lanka struggled to score runs off Nyauchi as he also emerged the most economic bowler from Zimbabwe with a rate which is under two runs an over.
The 27-year-old bowler dismissed Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne in the first session of the day for his first wicket of the Test career which was also the first of the day leaving Sri Lanka on 92/2.
Karunaratne had put 37 runs on the board when he was caught by Ainsley Ndlovu.
Nyauchi returned after lunch to break with the big wicket of Mendis, caught behind by wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor, breaking his partnership with Matthews which was eight runs short of a century milestone.
The Mountaineers bowler has been impressive in the domestic competition where he has taken 10 wickets in three matches at an impressive average of 22.4.
He has justified his inclusion in the team after he was picked as replacement for the country’s injured top pace bowler Tendai Chatara.
Ndlovu and top order batsman Kevin Kasuza, who scored a half century as Zimbabwe posted a 358 first innings total, are the other two players who are on Test debut.
Captain Sean Williams took Zimbabwe’s third wicket of the day catching Dinesh Chandimal off his own bowling with Sri Lanka on 227.
Donald Tiripano took Zimbabwe’s first wicket accounting for opener Oshada Fernando before close of play on Monday.
Sri Lanka, who have always struggled against Zimbabwe in recent years, will be looking to accelerate their scoring rate today and post a commanding lead to push for a win.
But with only a day left in the first Test of the two-match series a draw increasingly appears to be the likely result with both teams yet to bat again.