Zim excites in defeat

HARARE - Zimbabwe cricket team pushed Sri Lanka deep into the twilight overs of the day and can still exit Asia with their heads held high despite the four wicket defeat on the last day of the Hero Cup Test match at Ramasinghe Premadasain Stadium in Colombo yesterday.

That it had their match target of 388, the highest set score in Sri Lanka and the fifth highest of all time is no mini feat and credit to the Sri Lankan batsmen for chasing that target in a historic win in Colombo. It is also only the third time in Tests that all four innings have been between 300 and 400. Zimbabwe batted first and made 356 and 377 in their respective innings while Sri Lanka scored 346 and 391 in this high-scoring match.

Local batsmen Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza scored their career best Test scores of 160 and 127, captain Graeme Cremer picked his first Test five-for and was one wicket shot of his first Test 10-wicket haul after picking four wickets in the second innings to end the match with nine wickets.

Cremer summed up what could have been the main difference between winning and losing this match; the locals “don’t play enough of Test cricket.”

“Disappointing but credit to Sri Lanka, to chase 380 on a day-five pitch is pretty special... but credit to our guys as well. The way the guys fought and got the runs on the board and pushed Sri Lanka till the last day was great,” Cremer said of the defeat.

“We don’t play enough Test cricket, so it’s hard sometimes making decisions out there, but there’s a lot to learn from this Test match. The one-day series is a high point for us, we brought that confidence into the Test match and it gave us the belief that we could push the big teams.”

Sri Lanka opened the day needing 218 runs to win with seven wickets remaining on 170/3 but the Zimbabwe captain Cremer made an early breakthrough getting Kusal Mendis caught by Sean Williams for 53 runs with the hosts having added just eight runs to their overnight tally. Cremer’s lone caught and bowled effort saw dismissal of Angelo Mathews (25) for before lunch giving his charges the belief that a victory was still possible.

However, a tale of missed opportunities contributed to the visitors’ downfall with the main culprit being wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva who had a couple of drop catches behind the wicket.

Chakabva let-off fellow wicketkeeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella in the 84th over while he was on 63 runs. The batsman edged Williams’ delivery with the middle of his bat while attempting to flick across the line from outside off stump with the ball hitting Chakabva’s helmet grille and could not hold on to the rebound and literally dropping the match as Dickwella went on to score 81 runs, 18 more to Zimbabwe’s misery.

Unfortunately for Chakabva who took two beautiful catches in the first innings he was at it again 17 overs later this time dropping Dilruwan Perera after 102.1 overs after the batsman’s thick outside edge was spilled by the Zimbabwean keeper off the bowling of Williams again much to the disappointment of the spinner.

“It’s been a really good five days, so credit goes to all the players, they stuck to the plans and went there and did their best,” Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal said.

“It’s always tough when you are batting in the fourth innings but I told the team that they should play their normal game and they played some outstanding innings especially Dickwella and Asela Gunaratne...it’s always challenging as a captain but it’s about doing the right things on and off the field.”

As Zimbabwe departs Sri Lanka and head homewards it will crucial that another series awaits them in the not so distant future even against the newly promoted Test sides Afghanistan and Ireland and back in Sri Lanka, the home side are preparing for another big series against India.

Comments (1)

In Zimbabwe tour of Sri Lanka 2017 Zim won ODI series by 3-2. But the only test gone in the lap of Lanka. Sri Lanka won by 4 wickets in this match which is played on RP stadium Colmbo. "Gunarante" is the player of the match for his excellent played. www.cbtf.biz

Anish Sharma - 21 July 2017

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