By Srian Obeyesekere
In a champagne style capping, Sri Lanka took the fizz off Zimbabwe’s early domination of the first two days of the first test when the hosts batted almost two entire days as Dimuth Karunaratne’s charges rounded off the batting showmanship that snowballed on the third and fourth days to the 515-run avalanche which ultimately dwarfed Zimbabwe in a 10-wicket defeat on an eventful fifth and final day at the Harare Sports Club grounds on Thursday.
Indeed, what a transformation the Sri Lankans scripted in to a winning bubble from the low depths of the first two days Zimbabwe capitalised in occupying a barren wicket to a point of frustrating the opposition in a 358-run crawl that threatened to dim Sri Lanka’s prospects. And transform did the Lankan bowlers like a pack of wolves from where the centre piece wrecker double centurion Angelo Mathews left on the fourth day, spearheaded by strike bowler Suranga Lakmal in a fiery 4-wicket burst that shot out the Zimbabweans for a paltry second innings total of 170 in 92 overs consuming 392 minutes. It was a manifestation true to the ‘glorious uncertainties of cricket’ as the Sri Lankan bowling and fielding juggernaut harmonised to putting the icing on the cake to perfecting the culmination of what began on a bumper run flow. If the veteran batsman and most experienced in the pack 32-year old Angelo Mathews ignited the sweet music in that run harvest that fittingly earned him the ‘Player of the Match’ award with Kusal Mendis (80) and Dhananjaya de Silva and Niroshan Dickwella (63 apiece) adding to the salvo, Thursday’s final rites of the Zimbabweans were performed in a thrust that broke their batting like Jack Robinson.
There was Lakmal accounting for the top four of Masvaure caught behind by Dickwella for17, trapping Mudzinganyama LBW for 16, Ervine caught by Karunaratne for 7 and Taylor held by Mendis for 38. Taking over from where he left off was Kasun Rajitha in removing Williams for 39 and then Lahiru Kumara accounting for Tripano (06), Jarvis (01) and Ndlovu for a duck and Lasith Embuldeniya ending the show by clean bowling Chakabva for 26.
Openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando rounded it off in Sri Lanka scoring the 14 runs in 3 overs.
Zimbabwe 358 and 30/0 overnight, 170 All out. (92 Overs) Run rate: 1.84
(S.C. Williams 39, B.R.M. Taylor 38, R.W. Chakabva 26, P.S. Masvaure 17, B.S. Mudzinganyama 16, R.A.S. Lakmal 4/27, C.B.R.L.S. Kumara 3/32, L. Embuldeniya 2/74)
Sri Lanka 515/9 decl. and 14/0 (3 Overs) Run rate: 4.66.
(F.D.M. Karunaratne n.o. 10, B.O.P. Fernando n.o. 4)