Craig Ervine stood defiant with a resolute unbeaten 151 off 238 balls to help Zimbabwe to a healthy 344 for 8 at the close on the opening day of the one off Test match against Sri Lanka at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday. Zimbabwe was struggling at 38 for 3 wickets and 70 for 4 after spin wizard Rangana Herath dismissed both openers – R.W. Chakabva and H. Masakadza for 12 and 19 respectively as Sri Lanka under new captain Dinesh Chandimal made early inroads in to Zimbabwe who opted to bat first. But Ervine, coming in at No.4 struck 13 boundaries and one six in a concentrated rescue mission. It began with an 84-run alliance for the fourth wicket with S.C. Williams who was cleaned up by Dilruwan Perera for 22 off 26 balls. Sri Lanka’s thrust to take control of the match was thwarted by Ervine who continued to offer stiff resistance adding a further 42 for the fifth wicket with Sikander Raza who was trapped LBW by Herath for 36 with Zimbabwe on 154 for 5. With the game in the balance at that stage Ervine stood tall finding fine support from P.J. Moor (19) M.N. Waller (36) and A.G. Cremer (13) as Zimbabwe’s lower middle order proved to be a stumbling block to the Sri Lankan bowlers. Ervine was associated in an unbroken ninth wicket partnership of 54 runs with D.T. Tripano who was on 24 with Zimbabwe closing the day on a high note. Herath had claimed 4 wickets conceding 106 runs off 30 overs. Asela Gunaratne had 2 for 23.
By Srian Obeyesekere