Herath puts Sri Lanka on road to victory

Sri Lanka's players await a decision by third empire during the fourth day of the second cricket test match between Sri Lanka and hosts Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on November 9, 2016.  / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai Njikizana

Rangana Herath registered his second five-wicket haul in as many days to bowl Sri Lanka to the verge of victory in the second Test against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Wednesday (November 9).

Herath followed up his five-wicket haul in the first innings with 5 for 45 in the second as Zimbabwe, which was chasing a record 491 to tie the two-Test series, went to stumps on the fourth evening on 180 for 7.

The feat not only took Herath to 50 wickets in the calendar year in only his eighth Test, but also gave him a seventh 10-wicket match haul in his Test career.

Sri Lanka began the fourth morning on 102 for 4 in its second innings, already an overall lead of 334, and used the first half of the day pushing that advantage forward.

Dimuth Karunaratne, the opener, anchored the innings with a patient 88 and Kusal Perera, the wicketkeeper-batsman, slammed a quick-fire 62 off 69 deliveries towards the end, as Sri Lanka declared its second innings on 258 for 9 to set Zimbabwe a target that has never been achieved in Test history.

Zimbabwe’s more realistic target was to bat out 136 overs to save the match, but it was soon reduced to 39 for 3 as Herath stuck two quick blows before tea and one immediately after. A 74-run stand for the fourth wicket between Sean Williams and Craig Ervine briefly revived the Zimbabwe innings.

But once Williams edged to slip off Lahiru Kumara, the paceman, to fall for 45, Sri Lanka was able to chip away at the middle order and move within three wickets of a 2-0 series sweep, Herath adding the scalps of Peter Moor and Graeme Cremer, his opposite number, to complete his five-for.

Ervine reached stumps unbeaten on 65, with Donald Tiripano (0) for company.

Herath, who is leading the team in this series for the first time through the injury-enforced absence of Angelo Mathews, the regular skipper, and Dinesh Chandimal, his deputy, now has 348 wickets in his 75th Test, and could become the third Sri Lankan bowler after Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas to get to 350 Test wickets on the final morning.

Sri Lanka holds a 1-0 lead in the two-match series by virtue of its 225-run victory in the first Test at the same venue last week.

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