Match report Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka 2003/04 2nd Test 3rd day
by John Ward

Scorecard:Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka

Overnight: Sri Lanka 443/1 off 103 overs (Atapattu 202*, Sangakkara 186*).
Lunch: Sri Lanka 581/2 off 131 overs (Sangakkara 250*, Jayawardene 29*).
Tea: Sri Lanka 703/3 off 163 overs (Jayawardene 93*, Samaraweera 29*).
Close: Sri Lanka 713/3 dec; Zimbabwe (2) 44/2 off 25 overs (Taylor 19*, Ebrahim 3*).


More records were to fall on the third day of the Second Test between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, all of them unfavourable to the home side. At the end of the day, Zimbabwe were facing defeat as inevitable as any in cricket after Sri Lanka had amassed over 700 runs for only three wickets.


The carnage continued from the third over of the morning. After allowing two harmless balls from Panyangara to pass outside the off stump, Kumar Sangakkara handsomely drove the third wide of med-off to the boundary. It took him 18 minutes to move from his overnight 186 to his second Test double–century, achieved with a nudge for a leg-side single off Panyangara off his 264th ball.


For the first time in Zimbabwe cricket, two batsmen were at the wicket, both of whom had more than 200 to their credit. Sangakkara was 208 when another difficult chance went down, as third man could not hold an uppish slash. The partnership passed 400, the tenth to reach that mark in the history of Test cricket. Atapattu drove Elton Chigumbura classically through extra cover for four to take him past his previous Test best of 223, and continued on his stately way.


Every now and then, though, the batsmen showed signs of boredom, and Atapattu’s wicket finally fell on 249. Chigumbura bowled a ball outside off stump and Atapattu, trying to push a single to bring up his 250, edged it to the keeper. His huge innings lasted 516 minutes, he faced 324 balls and hit a six and 36 fours. The partnership with Sangakkara realized 438, the sixth-highest in Test cricket for any wicket. Brian Lara could breathe again.


Mahela Jayawardene stumbled out of the changing room like a bear aroused from hibernation to join Sangakkara. He played himself in sluggishly before suddenly pushing a bat at a ball from Chigumbura with such perfect timing that it bisected the covers for four. After that he kept the score moving quietly while Sangakkara reached his 250 in the last over before lunch.


Afterwards it was more batting practice for Sri Lanka. Sangakkara set his sights on 300, playing within himself, while Jayawardene played a few exquisite strokes and one or two risky ones; on 43 he had a narrow escape when he slashed a little too confidently at a ball from Nkala, getting an inside edge which narrowly missed his stumps and also just fell short of the keeper.


The next landmark was the ground individual record, as Sangakkara overtook the 266 scored by Dave Houghton almost ten years earlier, against a Sri Lankan team that contained the youthful Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan. But on 270 he fatally tried to glide a ball from Tinashe Panyangara to third man, got a thick edge, and Taibu dived far to his left to hold a good catch. He hit 36 fours and two sixes, in 468 minutes off 365 balls, and Sri Lanka were 627 for three. Perhaps even Sri Lankans were relieved, as it avoided what would have been Test cricket’s easiest triple-century.


Still Atapattu did not declare, perhaps under pressure from his middle order who wanted to fill their boots, and there was no pressure of time as significant rain is almost inconceivable in Bulawayo in the next few days. Thilan Samaraweera made an impressive start, with three beautifully timed fours in an over from Panyangara, but after that the adrenaline flow seemed to stop and he played second fiddle to Jayawardene.


Jayawardene’s favourite stroke now seemed to be the late cut, played with no slips in place but still risking the thin edge to the keeper. The score kept ticking over but the batsmen made no effort to tear the bowling apart, despite the total approaching 700 now – steady accumulation was all that was needed to keep up the scoring rate of four or five an over.


The thinking was that Jayawardene would go for his century by tea, at which point there would be a decision. But events seemed to show no such time restriction, as Jayawardene was content to play safe until the interval, when he was 93, and carried on afterwards. 15 balls later, he reached the landmark and immediately the batsmen ran from the field. Samaraweera was unbeaten with a sedate 32.


The total of 713 for three was second only to Australia’s 735 for six declared as a total recorded against Zimbabwe, and statistically even more impressive. For the first time in Test history, six bowlers all conceded more than 100 runs in an innings. But they never gave up, although occasionally they appeared to be on their last legs, and it was a fine achievement to concede only 14 extras – and Taibu let through no byes – during such a long innings.


Zimbabwe went in again 485 runs behind. Stuart Matsikenyeri survived fierce lbw appeals by Vaas off the second and third balls of the innings, both turned down by umpire Rudi Koertzen; the first was extremely close while the second hit him just outside the line of the off stump.


Matsikenyeri played a few aggressive strokes, but did not display the same frenetic look that he has sometimes shown at the crease. Nuwan Zoysa bowled just three overs before Muralitharan was unleashed on the batsmen. Then Zoysa changed ends, moved a ball across Matsikenyeri, who played indecisively and edged the ball to the keeper for 14; 22 for one.


Mark Vermeulen struggled to avoid his pair, but eventually drove the ball away powerfully square on the off side for four. However, he was out in virtually the same way as in the first innings, driving Zoysa straight to mid-off for a comfortable catch. He made 6, and Zimbabwe were 40 for two.


Taylor was slow early on, but then got down on one knee and swung Muralitharan hard and high over midwicket for six. Murali was still troubled by his bruised finger and actually bowled a spell of genuine and high-quality leg-breaks. Overall there was a relaxed atmosphere on the field rare in Test cricket, and due to the grossly uneven match situation.


Taylor finished on 19 and Dion Ebrahim had 3 at the end of the day. They had a huge task ahead of them.


(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)


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