Rangana Herath struck two early blows as Sri Lanka began their final push for victory in the second Test against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday.
Herath removed Brian Chari and Hamilton Masakadza in consecutive overs to reduce Zimbabwe to 33 for two at tea on the fourth day, as the hosts went in search of an unlikely 491 runs for victory.
With four sessions remaining in the match, Sri Lanka remained on course to sweep the two-match series, having won the first Test by 225 runs. The tourists began the fourth day on 102 for four in their second innings, with an overall lead of 334, and spent the first half of the day extending that advantage.
With Dimuth Karunaratne anchoring the innings with a patient 88 and Kusal Perera adding a quickfire 62 towards the end, Sri Lanka were able to declare their second innings on 258 for nine to set Zimbabwe 491 to win. Although they were unable to claim 20 wickets for an eighth straight Test match, Zimbabwe’s bowlers were able to slow Sri Lanka’s scoring in the first session, then picked up wickets when the visitors went on the attack after lunch.
Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer finished with figures of 4 for 91 after taking three late wickets, while fast bowler Carl Mumba took 3 for 67.
Left with 136 overs to bat in order to save the match, Zimbabwe saw Chari bowled by Herath in the eighth over of their innings, before the left-arm spinner trapped Masakadza lbw in his next over.
Brief Scores: Zimbabwe 272 (Brian Chari 80, Craig Ervine 64; Rangana Herath 5-89) & 33/2 (Rangana Herath 2-14) trail Sri Lanka 504 & 258/9 (Dimuth Karunaratne 88, Kusal Perera 62; Graeme Cremer 4-91, Carl Mumba 3-67) by 458 runs.