Sri Lanka ascendant after Gunaratne ton

Sri Lanka showed its batting might for the second day in succession, as Asela Gunaratne scored his maiden Test century and carried the team to a mammoth 504 on Day 2 of the second Test against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Monday (November 7).

Zimbabwe, however, made a positive start when faced with a daunting total, reaching 126 for 2 in 35 overs at stumps, bringing the deficit down to 378 runs. Leading the way for Zimbabwe was an unbeaten 109-run partnership between Brian Chari (60 from 100 balls) and Craig Ervine (60 from 92 balls) for the third wicket.

The duo came together after Rangana Herath, the Sri Lankan skipper, picked up two wickets in the sixth over of Zimbabwe’s innings. They saw off a tricky phase with a dour approach before opening up and gathering runs at a good clip. Their stand will leave Zimbabwe in a reasonably happy frame of mind after its bowlers had been milked by Sri Lanka’s middle and lower order.

Starting the day on 290 for 5 with Dhananjaya de Silva batting on 100 and Gunaratne on 13, Sri Lanka kept putting away the loose balls on offer. Zimbabwe earned some relief in the 105th over when de Silva was caught and bowled by Graeme Cremer, the Zimbabwe captain. De Silva perished after putting on 127 from 245 balls with 14 fours.

The home team would have hoped to run through the tail, but Gunaratne (116 from 193 balls) stood firm to string partnerships with the remaining batters. He added 54 runs for the seventh wicket with Dilruwan Perera and then a crucial 75 with Herath.

However, his hopes of reaching a century seemed bleak once Herath and Suranga Lakmal were dismissed by Donald Tiripano in the same over. But Lahiru Kumara, the No.11, kept a steady head and ensured his partner reached the triple figure mark. Gunaratne was the last man to fall as Sean Williams picked up his first wicket of the innings.

Tiripano and Cremer finished with three wickets each.

Zimbabwe’s response began with the home side losing Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza to a wily Herath, who brought himself on to bowl with the new ball.

That left Chari and Ervine with an unenviable task, but the duo delivered superbly.