Herath spins Sri Lanka towards Zimbabwe sweep

Harare—Three days between Tests is hardly enough for teams to work on their weaknesses. But this was Zimbabwe’s opportunity to prove they had learnt from their mistakes from the first Test or at least the first innings here. Going by the evidence of the 45 overs they batted on Wednesday, the fourth day, they didn’t.
Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain who on Monday became just the third bowler after Muttiah Muralitharan and Dale Steyn to complete five-wicket hauls against all Test nations, picked five wickets to leave Zimbabwe in a spin. Along the way, he became the first bowler to take 50 wickets in 2016. Chasing an improbable 491, set about by Sri Lanka’s declaration on 258 for 9 midway through the second session, they slumped to 180 for 7, with first-innings half-centurion Craig Ervine and Donald Tiripano at the crease.
The first three wickets fell in identical fashion: batsmen pressing forward and playing either outside the line or inside the line without any conviction, almost like they were searching for the ball without quite reading the trajectory. The deliveries that got Brian Chari and Hamilton Masakadza were arm-balls, while another flighted delivery spun away from the rough to take Tino Mawoyo’s edge off a tentative push to Dhananjaya de Silva at slip.
Sean Williams decided the best way to score runs was to step out to the spinners. He was lucky that a couple of mishits landed safe. But the visible difference in his approach was that there were no half-measures, like he exhibited in fetching a slog sweep off Dilruwan Perera from outside off over deep midwicket. Having weathered the early storm against spin, he paid the price for relaxing against the pacers; an ugly waft away from the body resulting in a thick edge to first slip off Lahiru Kumara.
Flight wasn’t the only component of spin that troubled Zimbabwe. Dhananjaya de Silva, handed the ball perhaps just to shake things up after Dilruwan kept getting picked off for runs, had a wicket in his second over when Malcolm Waller looked to drive, much like he did in the first innings, to a ball that drifted away to take the edge through to the wicketkeeper.
Not even the loss of five wickets in the session curbed the instincts of Zimbabwe’s batsmen. Peter Moor kept going after the bowlers and struck them well for as long as he was around, before jabbing with hard hands to be caught at silly point.—AFP

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