Sri Lanka ends rain-hit day 411 ahead

Sri Lanka's batsman Dimuth Karunaratne (C) plays a shot during the first match in a series of two cricket Test matches between Sri Lanka and hosts Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on October 29, 2016. This is the 100th Test match since Zimbabwe began playing international test cricket in 1992. / AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA

Dimuth Karunaratne scored his fourth Test century as Sri Lanka built a formidable lead before rain thwarted its surge against Zimbabwe on the fourth day of the first Test in Harare on Tuesday (November 1).

Karunaratne scored 110 in Sri Lanka’s second innings, which had reached 247 for 6 when rain arrived four overs into the final session, by which time it had lost Dhananjaya de Silva, caught at point by Malcolm Waller to become debutant paceman Carl Mumba’s fourth wicket of the innings.

Although the rain halted after an hour, the light failed to improve and Sri Lanka takes a lead of 411 into the final day.

Karunaratne came into the match without even a fifty in his three previous games, but followed up his 56 in the first innings with the century, his first in 19 innings and in over a year.

Zimbabwe was able to restrict the scoring early on the day, with Mumba bowling Kaushal Silva in the seventh over of the morning. But Karunaratne added 55 brisk runs for the second wicket with Kusal Perera, who fell for 17 when he edged Waller to Hamilton Masakadza at first slip.

Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis then sustained Sri Lanka’s momentum, until Mendis fell off the final ball of the first session when he was caught at mid-on by Graeme Cremer for 19 off Mumba.

When Upul Tharanga fell in the second over after lunch, becoming Mumba’s third victim, Sri Lanka was 117 for 4 and not yet too far ahead of Zimbabwe.

But de Silva joined Karunaratne in a 94-run stand for the sixth wicket that put Sri Lanka within sight of a declaration. While Karunaratne was caught and bowled by Chris Mpofu shortly before tea, his innings studded with seven fours, de Silva was dismissed for 64, with five fours and a six, soon after play began in the final session. Mumba ended the day with 4 for 50 from 11.5 overs.

Cremer’s first Test century – 43 was his highest in 13 Tests before the 102 not out in the first innings here – had headlined the third day’s play, when Zimbabwe was bowled out for 373 in response to Sri Lanka’s first-innings total of 537.