Sikandar Raza Butt produced his career best bowling figures so far to help Zimbabwe take a firm grip on their second cricket Test match against touring Sri Lanka after day three proceedings at the Harare Sports Club yesterday.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE
Raza took seven wickets at the expense of 113 as the visitors were bowled out for 293 with the innings wrapped up just before tea.
Carl Mumba, Donald Tiripano and Victor Nyauchi took the other three wickets for Zimbabwe.
The seam trio toiled for most of the day and probably deserved more than they got for their efforts, particularly Tiripano, who bowled 12 maidens from his 24 overs conceding just 30 runs while taking a single wicket.
After a long search for a wicket, Mumba took out the big fish when he claimed the scalp of danger man Angelo Mathews (64) with Regis Chakabva taking the catch behind.
Nyauchi retained figures of 1 for 40 after bowling 22.5 overs through the innings.
By close of play yesterday, Zimbabwe had reached 62 for 1 stretching their lead to 175 runs ahead of day four today.
Regis Chakabva and Prince Masvaure will resume on 14 and 26 respectively after play was stopped prematurely following rains. Zimbabwe lost Craig Ervine (13) who faced the new ball together with Masvaure after Kevin Kasuza had been ruled out due to concussion having taken a blow to his helmet fielding at short leg.
It was the only low point for Zimbabwe on an otherwise brilliant day of cricket for the hosts.
It was, however, Raza who illuminated Harare Sports Club as he ripped through the Sri Lanka batting line up.
Incredibly, Raza was not the luckiest man on the pitch with a number of batsmen put down off his bowling.
The part time spinners’ victims included Kusal Mendis (22), whose shot crashed onto Kasuza’s protective head gear before Mumba completed the catch.
He also took out Dimuth Kurunatne, Dinesh Chandimal (6) Dhananjan De Silva (42), Dickwella (1), Suranga Lakmal (5) and Lasith Embuldeniya (5) as he fell narrowly short of Paul Strang’s record of the best bowling figures in an innings by a Zimbabwean.
Strang took 8 for 109 against New Zealand in 2000.
Raza said they were pleased with their performance and will look to continue dominating the match as they go into day four.
“As a team, we should be very happy with where we are at the moment,” Raza said.
“We will look to dictate terms with the bat and hopefully set ourselves up for another good bowling display. We still have a lot of batting in the tank and the first hour and half will be crucial. We are looking at the guys who are in to lay the foundation in the first hour so that we can be more aggressive. I must say today we are pleased with what we did, this is one of my best Test cricket days in my career. ”
This morning, Zimbabwe will be looking to further stretch their lead as they set their sights on winning this match to level the series.