By Trevor Makonyonga
Pace Bowler, Lahiru Kumara, dismantled Zimbabwe National cricket team’s tail end as he denied the host nation the confidence boosting the privilege to draw the match.
Zimbabwe had shown signs of imitating the first innings play but on day 5 crumbled like a sweet deck of cards.
On day 1, Prince Masvaure and debutant Brian Mudzinganyama (who replaced Kevin Kasuza because of a concussion) had managed to see through the last session of day 4 but whatever happened on day 5 is still hard to take down.
It was the frequency of losing wickets that was worrisome as it tookonly 27 overs to deal with the serious batsmen the Chevrons had. The fall of wickets was as follows, 33-1 (18.2 overs) Prince Masvaure, 36-2 (20.3 overs) Brian Mudzinganyama, 41-3 (22.3 overs) Craig Ervine, 120-4 (44.3 overs) Brendan Taylor, 120-5 (45.2 overs) Sean Williams.
Not to discredit the Sri Lankan attack which had the likes of Lasith Embuldeniya, Kasun Rajitha and Suranga Lakmal, the Zimbabwe middle order was not up to scratch. Failing to get a player who gets to a half century shows the character of the entire team.
Man of the match, Angelo Mathews’ 200 innings cast a spell of misty dark wind that probably blurred the willingness of Zimbabwe to go on. The Zimbabwe players could have been drained and fatigued by standing in the scotching sun fielding for almost three days. Captain Dimuth Kurunaratne wisely declared in the final session of day 4 as Sri Lanka at 515/9.
Zimbabwe put on the board a collective total of 170 calling Sri Lanka to come back on the crease for one last dance as they needed 10 batsmen to bat through 14 runs.
It is interesting to notice that Zimbabwe failed to bat for time to kill just the one hour that was left of play.
It seemed the rain gods of the land forsook the boys as what they failed to achieve with the bat could have easily been solved aptly had a few rain drops descended on the Harare Sports Club turf.
Sean Williams top scored with 39 and Brendan Taylor had 38.
It will be necessary to keep the boys playing Test Cricket so that they get accustomed to this version of the game again.
The second test is set to begin on Monday. One hopes that Zimbabwe has learnt from the first test and that they will not repeat the same blunders of the first test. Key to do well will be that all the senior player’s step up.