Facing the ultimate challenge of wiping off 388, Sri Lanka was on 170 for 3 wickets with young star batsman Kusal Mendis keeping the flame alight on an 85-ball 60 inclusive of six boundaries, and Angelo Mathews on 17 with one boundary off 33 balls, having lost openers Upul Tharanga for 27, Dimuth Karunaratne for 49 and skipper Dinesh Chandimal for 15 on the fourth day of the solitary Test match against Zimbabwe.
In the face of Zimbabwe’s second innings 377 lit up by a fine 127 by Sikander Raza, Sri Lanka faced a daunting task after its bowlers had been taken to the cleaners by the lower order batsmen. Mendis, who came in at the fall of Tharanga’s wicket onat 58, added 42 for the second wicket with Dimuth Karunaratne who like Tharanga got out rather passively leaving a Williams delivery that hit shoulder and chest and on to the stumps. Tharanga had departed deflecting a delivery straight to the man on the inner leg side trap off Cremer. In the eventuality, Mendis batted in characteristic flamboyance going for his shots to carry Sri Lanka’s run charge adding an unfinished 37 for the fourth wicket with Mathews. The former captain used his cool temperament and was quick not to spare the lose ball clouting a six as Sri Lanka kept the match in the balance at the close. Requiring a further 218, the Mendis-Mathews duo had raised home expectations as they carry the victory thrust in to final day with the threesome of Niroshan Dickwella, Asela Gunaratne, Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath in the waiting to carry the charge. It was to Mendis’credit that he fought a leg cramp from time to time but stayed focus on the run chase.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-