BY KEVIN MAPASURE
Zimbabwe failed in their pursuit of a series levelling win in the second cricket Test match which ended in a draw at Harare Sports Club yesterday with touring Sri Lanka claiming a 1-0 win, having won the first match last week.
The hosts declared in the morning after Sean Williams had reached his half century to finish their second innings on 247 for 7 to set Sri Lanka a victory target of 361, but with ten overs remaining, the two captains agreed that a draw was inevitable and shook hands.
Zimbabwe needed to bowl out Sri Lanka in yesterday’s 98 overs, but they only managed to take three wickets with visiting batsmen proving resolute and solid, giving very little away.
Kusal Mendis scored an unconquered ton finishing on 116 with the tourists ending their innings on 204 for 3 in the second innings.
Oshada Fernando fell three runs short of his half century as he became Sikandar Raza’s only victim after he was trapped leg before.
Carl Mumba took the wicket of Dimuth Karunaratne, while Victor Nyauchi got rid of Fernando Mathews who scored 13 runs.
Raza, who took seven wickets and scored a half century in the first innings of the match, was named man of the match, while Mathews scooped the man of the series award.
Zimbabwe will reflect on day four where luck eluded them after their plans were scuppered by the rains that fell late in the afternoon, forcing a lengthy stoppage and subsequently bad light which also induced early stumps with 34 overs getting lost.
The hosts would have wanted to put a bigger score on the board and get a shot at bowling at Sri Lanka for at least an hour which on the day would have given them more time out in the field.
But even with that in mind, their bowling yesterday lacked penetration and they struggled to put the tourists under real pressure.
The first wicket (Karunaratne) fell in the 14th over while that of Fernando arrived 24 overs later with the last dropping after 60 overs. That was not enough to get Sri Lanka worried.
Donald Tiripano was at his frugal best with an economy of 0.93 after bowling 10 maidens of his 16 overs, conceding just 15 runs.
Fellow seamers Mumba and Nyauchi retained figures of 1 for 13 and 1 for 43 respectively, but the former only bowled four overs.
Spin was just as ineffective as seam with Raza finishing with 1 for 63 while Williams had 0 for 49 with Mutombodzi also finishing without a scalp conceding 19 runs in the seven overs that he was given.
While they will be disappointed with the drawn second Test, they will be pleased with some performances in the match, particularly their effort with both bat and ball in the first innings where they scored 406 all out before they bowled out Sri Lanka for 293.
They will look forward to their next challenge which is a tour to Bangladesh with optimism.
Williams was pleased with the way they played spin.
“Unfortunately, I got sick, but Brendan did a really good job there and well done to Raza. We played spin really well this series and I am looking forward to the Bangladesh series.”
Raza was disappointed with the draw, but is already looking ahead.
“I think I wanted to channel all my emotions in the right way. I just made a commitment to work hard everyday after missing out on a couple of series. I try and complement bowling with batting. When I was training for this Test, I had about 200 overs under my belt. I am certainly looking forward to the franchise cricket, we have back-to-back games,” he said.
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne praised Zimbabwe for their positive approach.
“I think if you take this Test, Zimbabwe competed well for the first four days. They were really positive and played really good cricket. We had to bat the whole day, I think Kusal and Oshada were really good. As a team, we have done some really good things over the last two years,” he said.