Zimbabwe – 358 all out in 148 overs (Craig Ervine 85, Kevin Kasuza 63, Prince Masvaure 55; Lasith Embuldeniya 5/114, Suranga Lakmal 3/53, Lahiru Kumara 2/82)
Sri Lanka – 42-1 in 14 overs (Oshada Fernando 21, Dimuth Karunaratne 12*, Kusal Mendis 6*; Donald Tiripano 1/5)
Day 2 – Stumps: Sri Lanka trail by 316 runs with nine wickets remaining in the first innings
Donald Tiripano had a good all-round day for Zimbabwe on the second day of the first Test match against Sri Lanka at Harare Sports Club today.
After a rather disappointing performance by Zimbabwe’s middle-order batsmen, Tiripano revived the lower order with a fine innings of 44 not out, and then, when Sri Lanka batted, he took the one wicket that fell before close of play with a fine delivery.
After two days it cannot be said which team has an advantage in this match, as Zimbabwe did not quite fulfil their promise of the first innings when compiling a total of 358, while the Sri Lanka first innings, at 42 for one off 14 overs, has yet to develop.
Zimbabwe resumed batting on another cloudy but dry morning at their overnight score of 189 for two, with Craig Ervine on 55 and Brendan Taylor 13.
The policy of the batsmen was obviously to play warily at the start, but to be ready to score when the opportunity presented itself.
The bowlers found more movement off the pitch than on the previous day, which made batting more difficult.
Ervine settled in smoothly, however, but Taylor was still not in his best form, until when on 21 he was beaten by a good ball from Suranga Lakmal that moved back in on him and trapped him lbw, at 208 for three.
Ervine continued to play most deliveries with time to spare, but Sean Williams, in his first innings as Zimbabwe captain, struggled and scored just a single off his first 23 balls.
However, he then opened his shoulders to a ball from Dhananjaya de Silva and lofted him for six over long-on, the third successive Zimbabwe batsman to drive a six as his first boundary.
For a while he looked back to his best form, but when he had scored 18 he jabbed at a ball from the left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya that bounced on him, and edged it to the keeper to make the score 247 for four wickets.
Sikandar Raza came in, but without addition to the score Zimbabwe lost the vital wicket of Ervine for 85.
Lakmal bowled a fine delivery to move the ball back in to the left-hander, and he played it on to his stumps via the inside edge.
He had faced 167 balls and hit five fours and three sixes, and his dismissal left Zimbabwe with their advantage gone at 247 for five.
Fortunately they had two experienced campaigners at the crease now in Raza and Regis Chakabva, and they saw Zimbabwe through to lunch at 260 for five, unbeaten on six and seven respectively.
Chakabva did not last long, playing a drive off Embuldeniya that he did not get over properly, and Angelo Matthews at mid-on was able to dive and take the catch before the ball hit the ground.
Chakabva made eight, and Zimbabwe were in further trouble at 266 for six wickets, with a rather weak tail to come.
Lahiru Kumara resorted to bouncers, and hit both Tiripano and Raza on the body in the course of an over.
At 1.10 pm, with the score at 268 for six (Raza 12 and Tiripano 1), a sharp shower of rain drove the players from the field, but it had virtually stopped before the umpires left the playing area, and the players were on again in about six minutes.
Tiripano wisely played a quiet game and left most of the scoring to Raza, though he did manage to steer a ball from Kumara past the slips for four.
They batted well together, steadying the innings and taking the score past 300, which had been by no means certain when they came together.
Raza made 41 off 65 balls before, just as he was looking good for a big score, leapt out of his crease to make a rather wild hit at a ball from Embuldeniya, but it floated away from him and he was easily stumped; 307 for seven.
The weak tail was not expected to last very long, and Jarvis came and went for a single, bowled by Embuldeniya.
Tiripano now had to take over as the senior partner, with Ainsley Ndlovu as his latest assistant.
Ndlovu caused some surprise and applause by slogging a ball from Embuldeniya to the leg boundary.
Tiripano scored some useful runs, taking the score to 328, but then Ndlovu tried another big hit to leg, off Kumara, but only succeeded in hammering it into the midriff of Kusal Mendis at short leg; out for five.
The last man, another debutant in Victor Nyauchi, now came in to join Tiripano, who was on 25.
His innings almost ended there, as he edged a ball from Kumara that first slip dived for but could not reach; the batsmen ran but almost got in a mix-up; there were two separate overthrows in a comedy of errors, and in the end the batsmen were able to run five.
This was a rare blemish in the usually excellent Sri Lankan fielding.
The tea interval had been delayed to allow Sri Lanka to take the last Zimbabwe wicket, but the last pair gallantly held them up.
Eventually, after an extra half-hour had been taken and the batsmen were still there, the players left the field for tea at 349 for nine; Tiripano had 41 and Nyauchi five.
Afterwards Nyauchi scored a two to take the score past 350, and shortly afterwards he reached double figures when he nudged a lifter from Lakmal between slips and gully for four.
Unfortunately, off the next delivery he swatted a gentle catch to backward point and the innings was over for 358, leaving Tiripano stranded on a very good 44 not out.
The last pair had put on 30 runs and, although some of the middle-order batting had been disappointing, the total was not as bad as had looked likely at one stage.
Embuldeniya, though expensive at times, had been the main cause of the middle-order failure, and he finished with five for 114; Lakmal had three for 53, looking much more dangerous on the second day, while Kumara had two for 82.
Jarvis and Nyauchi opened the bowling for Zimbabwe against the Sri Lankan captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, and Oshada Fernando, and the latter took two fours off Jarvis’s first over, which was a little wayward in direction.
At first the Sri Lankan batting seemed a little frenetic, as if they were chasing a target in one-day cricket, but then the batsmen settled down to more conventional Test-match play, with the left-handed Karunaratne showing much caution, with Fernando more of an aggressor.
As the bowlers tightened up, even Fernando was restricted in his strokes and after ten overs the score had been restricted to 32.
Then Tiripano came on to bowl in place of Nyauchi, and he struck gold first ball.
It was outside the off stump and Fernando pushed at it and perhaps even decided to withdraw his bat, but it swung in and knocked out his off stump for 21.
With the light deteriorating now, the batsmen took no risks, and the score had reached 42 for one when the umpires called it a day just before five o’clock; Karunaratne had 12 and Mendis 6.
The match at present appears to be well balanced, with Zimbabwe doing better on the first day and Sri Lanka probably having the edge on the second, though there was not much in it.
The third day will be crucial as we shall see how the Sri Lanka innings develops.