BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Zimbabwe 358 & 170, Sri Lanka 515/9d & 14/0 (3 ov, target 14)
Sri Lanka won by 10 wickets
ZIMBABWE struggled with the bat in the second innings as they crushed to a 10-wicket defeat to tourists Sri Lanka on the final day of the first of the two-match Test series at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Sri Lanka take a 1–0 lead in the Test series thanks to magnificent double ton by man-of-the-match Angelo Matthews as well as some impressive bowling from Lasith Embuldeniya in the first innings and Suranga Lakmal in the second innings.
The hosts had managed to stand toe to toe with their illustrious opponents for four days after managing a first innings total of 358 despite failing to bowl out the visitors who eventually declared on 515 for 9.
Behind by 157 runs, with four sessions remaining in the match, it was expected that Zimbabwe would comfortably bat to the last session and claim a draw.
But the hosts who began day five on 30 without loss had no answers for Lakmal’s intelligent bowling in the first session as he snared the wickets of Prince Masvaure, Brian Mudzinganyama and Craig Ervine inside the first six overs.
Masvaure was the first to go for just 17 runs before debutant Mudzinganyama followed for 16 while Ervine could only manage seven.
Captain Sean Williams (39) and Brendan Taylor (38) gave the team hope with a 79-run fourth wicket stand but it was broken soon after lunch by Lakmal.
Williams followed five balls later, caught behind off the bowling of Kasun Rajitha.
The only other resistance came from wicket keeper Regis Chakabva who scored a dogged 26 as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 170 to leave Sri Lanka needing 14 runs to win.
Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando needed just 3 overs to deliver victory for the visitors.
Captaining in his first Test match Williams had a lot of praise for the team in spite of the result.
“The guys have tried their hardest. The wicket got difficult today, you couldn’t trust the bounce,” Williams said in his post-match interview.
“The way Chakabva batted today was incredible and the seamers did well for us. Spinners we need more discipline in that area. The seamers put in a hell of a lot of overs. The young guys coming into this side put their hands up. There are a lot other positives. All in all, I am very proud of them,” Williams said.
Zimbabwe who were playing their first Test match in almost 15 months impressed during the tie and can only get better in the second Test which begins on Monday.
Particularly impressive were debutants Kevin Kasuza who scored a half century in the first innings before injury ruled him out of the match.
Pace bowlers Victor Nyauchi took 3 wicket for 69 for Zimbabwe in his first match while Mudzinganyama and spinner Ainsley Ndlovu showed a lot of promise.