1st Test: Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe at Colombo, 27 Dec 2001 - 1 Jan 2002|
Sri Lanka 1st innings:
BAD LIGHT FORCES THE PLAYERS OFF THE FIELDBad light forced the players from the field in the evening, probably for the day, with Sri Lanka well placed after an attritional day of Test cricket.
Sri Lanka were 211 for three after the second interruption of the day, with Kumar Sangakkara on 62 and Russel Arnold on four.
Arnold survived a trial by television shortly after the drinks break when he edged a catch behind to Andy Flower off medium pacer Gary Brent. All the Zimbabwean players were convinced Arnold had been legitimately caught but umpire Riazuddin called for the third umpire. Inconclusive televisions left umpire Tyronne Wijewardene with no option but to show the green light and let Arnold off the hook.
Gripper, playing in his tenth Test match, had only one Test wicket before today, but he struck two crucial blows for Zimbabwe, dismissing Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene.
At the evening water break, with dark clouds building up all round the ground, Sri Lanka were 198 for three after 67 overs.
Jayasuriya (92) looked set for his ninth Test century, but fell eight runs short when he was caught of his glove whilst trying to sweep an off-break (150 for two).
Jayawardene then started well, hitting four quick boundaries and 14 in an over off Travis Friend, before paying for his aggression, as he tried to loft Gripper straight down the ground. He failed to get to the pitch of the ball and a lofted a catch to Stuart Carlisle sprinting backwards from mid on, to be dismissed for 18 (170 for three).
Russel Arnold, batting with a dislocated little finger, joined Sangakkara who was now batting fluently. The left-handed wicket-keeper batsman used his feet well to the off-spinner, driving through the covers, and also played powerfully off the back foot, bringing up his fifty off 112 balls with a pulled six.
At the drinks break Sangakkara was on 51 and Arnold three.
When the players left the field the home team were 142 for one after 51 overs with skipper Jayasuriya, closing in on his ninth Test century, on 85 from 148 balls and Kumar Sangakkara on 24.
During the last 45 minutes of the session, Jayasuriya raised the tempo, hitting Henry Olonga, who had replaced Gary Brent, for a flurry of boundaries onto the leg-side.
From the Press Box End Travis Friend was replaced by part-time off-spinner Trevor Gripper, one of only two spinners in the Zimbabwean attack. He was lofted straight down the ground by Sangakkara but otherwise bowled tightly, conceding just seven runs in his five overs.
In the hour after lunch Sri Lanka added 42 runs and were 110 for one from 41 overs at the water break.
Jayasuriya continued to impress, mixing patient defense with characteristics clumps through the off-side. During the hour he reached his 20th Test century and was 65 not out at the break.
But his opening partner, Marvan Atapattu, was dismissed when he tried to leg glance Heath Streak. The right-hander lost balance and was caught down the leg-side by wicket-keeper Andy Flower. He had scored 25 from 104 balls (78 for one).
Kumar Sangakkara (12 not out) then joined Jayasuriya. The left-hander would have been run out without scoring if Henry Olonga had hit the stumps directly after a mix-up in the running. Since then he has looked comfortable, hitting two boundaries.
Gary Brent bowled unchanged and economically from the Tennis Courts End after lunch. With seven men packed into the off-side he maintained a strict off-side line, trying to tempt the batsmen into playing a rash shot.
For Sri Lanka it was a crucial session. They were determined to survive it unscathed and they did so by eschewing risks. It was far from exhilarating, as the home team crawled 68 without loss in the opening two hours.
Zimbabwe were also left ruing an opportunity missed off Heath Streak’s first ball of his second spell. Marvan Atapattu, 21 at the time, flicked a full-length ball off his pads and the ball flew knee-high to Hamilton Masakadza diving forward at mid-wicket. But the ball spilled out when Masakadza landed.
Then, Jayasuriya - who had been in excellent form all morning, patiently waiting for the bad ball, which he invariably hit for four – leg glanced Streak just wide of a sprawling Andy Flower behind the stumps.
At lunch, Jayasuriya had scored 43 from 82 balls and hit seven boundaries, whilst Atapattu was on 22 from 80 balls.
Streak was the pick of the bowlers but no one let down their captain, bowling with good discipline. They now have to continue to do that and hope that they can break the patience of the Sri Lankan batsmen.
Zimbabwe could already be ruing their decision to give Sri Lanka first use of an excellent batting surface. The ball has not moved around in the air or off the pitch as much as they would have liked and both openers have looked secure.
After the first hour Sri Lanka were 33 without loss, with Sanath Jayasuriya on 19 and Marvan Atapattu on 13.
Jayasuriya looked in excellent form, driving Travis Friend through the covers four times in his two spells.
Heath Streak was the most accurate of the fast bowlers, three of whom were used in the first hour. He also came close to dismissing Atapattu when a delivery ballooned off the right-handers pad and was caught by short leg. Streak was convinced that the ball had come off Atapattu’s bat first but umpire Peter Manuel disagreed.
The withdrawal of tour skipper and leg-spinner Brian Murphy, who is lacking confidence and form after an injury layoff, leaves Zimbabwe without a specialist spinner.
That being the case, the tourists picked four seamers and fielded first on a pitch that traditionally offers the fast bowlers assistance during the first session.
But this pitch is dry and should they not capitalise on the early moisture, then Sri Lanka's batsmen can look forward to a perfect opportunity to build a large first innings total.
Zimbabwe's decision to bowl first may also have been swayed by their early tour nightmare when they had been skittled out for just 38 on the same ground.
Heath Steak and Travis Friend will take the new ball, with Henry Olonga and medium pacer Gary Brent providing support.
Sri Lanka surprisingly named three seamers in the team, contrary to their plans yesterday, when they had looked set to play two fast bowlers and two specialist spinners.
Charitha Buddika Fernando, 21, picks up his second Test cap, getting the nod ahead of Matara born pace bowler Prabath Nissanka.
Otherwise the Sri Lankan side remains unchanged to the one that defeated West Indies earlier in the month.
Sanath Jayasuriya (capt), Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Russel Arnold, Kumar Sangakkara, Hashan Tillakaratne, Thilan Samaraweera, Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Zoysa, Charitha Buddika Fernando
Stuart Carlisle, Grant Flower, Andy Flower, Craig Wishart, Gavin Rennie, Hamilton Masakadza, Travis Friend, Henry Olonga, Heath Streak, Trevor Gripper, Gary Brent
Date-stamped : 27 Dec2001 - 14:32