Sri Lanka 293 and 204 for 3 (Mendis 116*, Mumba 1-13) drew with Zimbabwe 406 and 247 for 7 dec (Taylor 67, Williams 53*, Fernando 2-43)
Kusal Mendis’ seventh Test century ensured there were no late scares for Sri Lanka as the visitors eked out a draw in the second and final Test in Harare and sealed the series 1-0.
For Zimbabwe, they can take heart from a performance that had pushed their more illustrious opponents right throughout the five days, and at times it looked like they might actually secure their first-ever Test win over Sri Lanka.
But in the end, while Zimbabwe’s batsman had impressed – especially Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza – their bowling always looked to lack the necessary killer instinct to take ten Sri Lanka wickets in a single day. This, despite Raza having recorded the second-best Test figures for Zimbabwe in the first innings.
The only highlight of the final session on the fifth day was Mendis’ century, which he brought up in style – a sumptuous six off Raza, skipping down the track and launching him comfortably over long-on. Mendis ended with an unbeaten 116, five runs short of 3000 Test runs.
That latter must wait for another day, but for now, Sri Lanka will reflect on a game in which they were outplayed for vast periods.
The final day had started with Williams declaring Zimbabwe’s second innings on 247 for 7 after just one ball: an uncharacteristic leg-stump half-volley by Suranga Lakmal that Sean Williams flicked over deep square leg for six.
The shot brought up Williams’ third Test fifty, but more importantly, Zimbabwe got the chance to use the heavy roller on a dry Harare deck at the start of the day. The idea presumably being to widen some of the cracks on the pitch, and give their bowlers a better chance of bowling out a team in the fourth innings of a Test for just the seventh time in their history.
And the plan seemed to have worked too, where following a period of tight bowling, Carl Mumba coaxed Dimuth Karunaratne into a false stroke outside off. The batsman tried to pull out at the last moment but not before the ball took the outside edge and went into the wicketkeeper’s gloves.
The period following the wicket was one of Zimbabwe’s most threatening, with both Oshada Fernando and Mendis looking uncomfortable against a buoyant home attack. However, in the 24th over Mendis looked to shift gears, picking off Victor Nyauchi for back to back boundaries through midwicket. Fernando joined the party in the next over, taking Williams for three fours – two lofted over mid-on, the third drilled through the covers.
While Nyauchi did constantly test the pair during this period, beating the outside edge on a few occasions and inducing it at other times – twice resulting in boundaries down to third man, with another bouncing just in front of first slip – the pair nevertheless made it through to lunch unscathed.
The post-lunch session though was a dour affair, yielding just 51 runs for Sri Lanka and a further two wickets for Zimbabwe – effectively ending any lingering hopes of a result.
Zimbabwe were, however, given a brief glimmer of hope when Fernando was trapped lbw by Raza in the second over after lunch, and then later when Angelo Mathews was dismissed towards the end of the session – owing to some innovative field settings, that saw short extra-cover, short cover, short mid-off, short mid-on and short midwicket in place at one point – but Mendis, aided by an obdurate Dinesh Chandimal ensured there was no further damage with the teams shaking hands 15 minutes into the final hour.