Tour Match: Sri Lanka v Zimbabweans at Colombo, 21-23 Dec 2001|
Zimbabweans 1st innings:
ZIMBABWE LOSE FIVE WICKETS IN EVENING SESSIONZimbabwe lost five wickets in an extended evening session but still ended the day with boosted self-confidence after a solid display from their batsmen.
At the end of the first day Zimbabwe were 319 for six, with Andy Flower unbeaten on 51 and Gary Brent on one.
Trevor Gripper had retired hurt during the tea interval, complaining of a painful knee. Coach Geoff Marsh said he could have played on, but reasoned there was no point in aggravating the injury after he had scored a century.
Grant Flower (2), who had waited for three and a half hours, as Gripper and Stuart Carlisle added 186 for the second wicket, was then dismissed cheaply, as he edged a leg-cutter to Chamara Silva at first slip.
Carlisle batted for an hour after tea before throwing away his wicket whilst on the verge of his fourth first class century. Fast bowler Ravi Pushpakumara dropped short and Carlisle cracked it straight to Jeevan Mendis at point to be dismissed for 98 (244 for three).
Gavin Rennie then added a further 34 runs with Andy Flower, who was studiously batting himself back into form after a disapp ointing one-day series. But Rennie failed to secure his place in the final Test side when he was caught at short leg whilst trying to sweep for 19 (278 for four).
And, fourteen minutes later, his replacement, Craig Wishart, was trooping back to the dressing room too having been stumped for six, as he tried to two-step down the wicket to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.
Douglas Marillier batted stodgily for 29 minutes before the Board XI took the new ball in the 85th over of the innings, with the light closing in fast. Marillier was caught in two minds and dragged a ball onto to his stumps as he decided to leave a ball too late, to give Fernando his third wicket of the innings (305 for six).
Brent was dropped just before the close.
For Sri Lankas bowlers, however, the picture is less idyllic. The fast bowlers may have threatened during the first session, but they looked tame in the afternoon when the sun had long since burnt off the early moisture.
Trevor Gripper and Stuart Carlisle batted throughout the session and at tea Zimbabwe, who struggled to score three figures in the one-day tournament, were comfortably placed on 204 for one.
The right-handed Gripper, 25, scored his third first class century and his second for Zimbabwe and, at tea, was 101 not out from 166 balls, having hit 14 boundaries. Carlisle was unbeaten on 75 from 135 balls, approaching four first class fifties.
In their similarly efficient styles the pair batted solidly during the afternoon. Neither gave chances and both looked at ease against the Sri Lankan spinners. Gripper somewhat unfortunately called T.G. Ritter in the official tour programme was particularly strong straight down the ground and used his feet well against the slower bowlers.
Hamilton Masakadza, a teenage prodigy who shot to fame with a hundred on debut against West Indies, started the day with a neat on drive for four in Ravindra Pushpakumaras opening over. But Masakadza, earmarked for the opening slot in the Tests, was the one victim of the morning as he prodded at a well-pitched leg-cutter from Dinusha Fernando and was caught behind for 1 0 (18 for one).
Stuart Carlisle (26 not out), relieved of his captaincy duties after the re-instatement of the 25-year-old leg-spinner Brian Murphy, came into bat and added 52 runs with Trevor Gripper (30 not out) for the second wicket. The pair, more gritty than dashing, mostly accumulated their runs with pushes and prods, although the odd half volley was dispatched efficiently to the boundary. They also played and missed, as all the fast bowlers, but especially Fernando, moved the ball in the air and off the pitch.
After 45 minutes, Gripper edged a quick delivery from Puspakumara just short of Anushka Polonawita at first slip. Polonawita slapped down the ball with his right palm, but spilt the webbing on his hand and was forced to leave the field for three stitches. He was later replaced, after agreement by both sides, by all-rounder Ramya Kumara (also known as Gayan Wijekoon).
Later on, Carlisle had a narrow escape after a confidant appeal for leg before from a bellowing Pushpakumara and then edged left-arm spinner Rangana Herath just short of first slip.
Zimbabwe can now look forward to long afternoons batting on a pitch that lost its early morning menace.
The tourists decided to rest both their strike bowlers, Travis Friend and Heath Streak, and have packed their side full of batsmen, as they try to get as many players in form as possible for the Test series.
The team also included Gavin Rennie, who becomes the third player to be drafted into the squad. Rennie, who toured Sri Lanka successfully last year with the A side, arrived yesterday.
Mluleki Nkala returned home to Zimbabwe after the one-day tournament.
Brian Murphy (Capt), Stuart Carlisle, Grant Flower, Andy Flower, Trevor Gripper, Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Wishart, Gavin Rennie, Douglas Marillier, Gary Brent, Henry Olonga
Pradeep Hewage (Captain), Ian Daniel, Chamara Silva, Anushka Polonnowita, Jeevantha Mendis, Prasanna Jayawardene, Malinga Bandara, Rangana Herath, Ravindra Pushpakumara, Prabath Nissanka, Dinusha Fernando (Reserves: M Pushpakumara Gayan Wijekoon)
Date-stamped : 21 Dec2001 - 14:50