BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Zimbabwe 358 all-out, Sri Lanka 42/1 (14 overs) – Sri Lanka trail by 316 runs with 9 wickets remaining in the 1st innings
A HEROIC fight back from bowling all-rounder Donald Tiripano with both bat and bowl ensured the opening Test between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka remained evenly poised after an eventful second day at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
After a middle order collapse that saw the dismissal of Zimbabwe’s top-scorer Craig Ervine for 85 runs threatened to undo the hosts’ solid start, the seasoned bowling all-rounder combined with the tail-enders to produce a spirited resistance.
Tiripano was left stranded on 44 but his crucial knock took the hosts’ first innings total to 358 all-out.
He also provided the much needed early breakthrough with the ball, claiming the only wicket in Sri Lanka’s innings from his first delivery of the match.
At stumps, Sri Lanka were 42 for one, trailing the hosts by 316 runs with captain Dimuth Karunaratne unbeaten on 12 runs while Kusal Mendis resumes the third day unbeaten on six runs.
Earlier, Zimbabwe had made steady progress after resuming day two on 189 for two before losing three wickets for 47 runs in the first session as they collapsed from 208 for three to 247 for five following the dismissals of Brendan Taylor (21), skipper Sean Williams (18) and Craig Ervine (85) in quick succession.
Williams was disappointed with the way the middle order folded after a good start by the top order batsmen.
“The middle order actually failed us in this innings, guys got in and got out and that was the difference between getting 450 and 400 which is what I would have loved on this wicket. I asked for discipline and good decisions and that didn’t happen. We are moving in the right direction and showing signs of it which is good to see but again there are soft wickets which keep on falling,” Williams said.
Taylor, who had started the second day on 13 runs, could only manage to add eight runs to his overnight score before he was trapped LBW by seamer Suranga Lakmal in the seventh over of day two.
Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya picked up his second wicket of the innings three overs before lunch after having Williams caught behind for 18 runs before the set batsman Ervine was clean bowled by Lakmal in the very next over as Zimbabwe reached lunch on 260 for five.
It got worse for Zimbabwe after lunch as they only managed to add six runs before wicketkeeper batsman Regis Chakabva became Embuldeniya’s third victim after being caught at mid-on for eight.
A crucial 41 run partnership between Sikandar Raza and Donald Tiripano took Zimbabwe past the 300 mark.
Raza was, however, stumped on 41 runs by Dickwella off the bowling of Embuldeniya while charging down the wicket.
Embuldeniya completed his five wicket haul in his next over by removing Jarvis for just one run as Sri Lanka threatened to clean up the Zimbabwe tail in quick time.
Tiripano, however, combined with Ainsley Ndlovu and Victor Nyauchi to frustrate the Islanders with an unbeaten 44 which took Zimbabwe beyond the tea interval before they were bowled out for 348 in 148 overs.
Sri Lanka made a steady start with skipper Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando compiling 32 runs for the opening stand inside 11 overs before Tiripano clean bowled the former in the penultimate over of the day to ensure the match remained delicately poised heading into the third day.