Kusal Mendis’ 7th Test ton on day 5 of the 2nd Test between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe paved the way for a well-fought draw, giving the Lions the series 1-0.
After rain and bad light had diminished Zimbabwe’s chances of setting Sri Lanka a 400+ target on day 4, the expectation was that the hosts would declare overnight in a bid to push for a win. However, surprisingly, overnight batsmen Sean Williams and Donald Tiripano did come out to bat to extend Zimbabwe’s lead. The ploy didn’t last very long at all as the hosts declared after just 1 delivery, setting Sri Lanka 361 to win in 96 overs.
Sri Lanka got off to a slow and steady start via openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando, as the pair put on 26 in 13.4 overs, seeing off the new ball, before a soft dismissal saw Karunaratne sent back. Mendis then joined Fernando and the pair looked steady right throughout, cautious at first and then accelerating during the 2nd half of the 1st session to go into Lunch unscathed.
Mendis was the aggressor from the get-go, using his feet adeptly to Sikandar Raza, who picked up 7 wickets in the 1st innings and ended up making 116 in 233 deliveries, including 13 fours and 1 six.
Fernando fell at the beginning of the 2nd session but another solid partnership between Mathews and Mendis steadied Sri Lanka once again. Raza did trouble the visiting batsmen with the odd delivery keeping low, but Mendis, Mathews and eventually Dinesh Chandimal were solid in defense as the game drew to a close. With a result looking unlikely, the teams decided to call it a day with 10 of the 96 overs due to be bowled on day 5 remaining.
Despite having the likes of Dhananjaya De Silva and Niroshan Dickwella yet to bat, Sri Lanka, understandably, did not push for a win, having already more or less secured the series with a win in the 1st Test.
Zimbabwe on the other hand would be disappointed that they could not do better on a deteriorating pitch to register their 1st ever Test win over Sri Lanka.