Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera took three wickets each to help Sri Lanka secure a late 225-run win against Zimbabwe in the first Test at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday (November 2).
After declaring on its overnight total of 247 for 6 to set Zimbabwe 412 for victory on the final day, it looked like Sri Lanka would be held to a draw as Graeme Cremer once again led the resistance with an obdurate 43. But Herath returned 3 for 38, which included the wickets of Cremer and Sean Williams, and Perera took 3 for 34 as Zimbabwe was bowled out for 186 with just 7.3 overs left.
The final day began with Zimbabwe making a strong start to its innings, as Tinonenda Mawoyo and Brian Chari, the opening batsmen, saw off the new ball. Even after Chari was bowled in Lahiru Kumara’s first over, Mawoyo found support in Hamilton Masakadza as the two batted for almost an hour.
However, with Mawoyo given out lbw to Perera for 37, a collapse ensued, and Zimbabwe fell from 68 for 1 to 74 for 5 in four overs. Perera trapped Craig Ervine lbw in his next over, and in the following over Suranga Lakmal dismissed both Masakadza and Malcolm Waller. With Peter Moor then out lbw to Kumara, the end seemed in sight for Zimbabwe.
But Williams was joined by Cremer, whose unbeaten century headlined the Zimbabwe first innings, and the two saw Zimbabwe through the next 80 minutes to the tea interval.
Needing four wickets in the final session, Herath stepped up to have Williams caught at slip for 40 before trapping Donald Tiripano lbw.
Yet, Cremer fought on, taking his innings towards the three-hour mark. But, with less than ten overs to go, Cremer, the Zimbabwe captain, had a rush of blood and was stumped off Herath for 43.
Carl Mumba and Chris Mpofu lasted a further three overs before Perera sealed the game by bowling Mpofu for a duck, consigning Zimbabwe to defeat in its 100th Test.