Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Day 5, Preview and prediction: Visitors eye early 1-0 lead

Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Day 5, Preview and prediction: Visitors eye early 1-0 lead

Sri Lanka with an lead of over 411 would eye declaration first thing into Day 5 and ask Zimbabwe to chase down a mammoth target.

Updated: November 2, 2016 10:45 AM IST | Edited By: Vishal Mehra

Day Four was supposed to be a humdinger and that it proved to be for the fans. A topsy-turvy day ensured that Sri Lanka go as the stronger team into Day 5 against Zimbabwe in the first of the two Test series taking place at the Harare Sports Club in Harare. Sri Lanka started the day with both their openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva still unbeaten. Zimbabwe would have hoped for a exuberant show from their bowlers; Carl Mumba and Co did exactly the same. Christopher Mpofu started the downfall snatching Kaushal for just 7 runs. Kusal Perera (55) and Kusal Mendis (39) did not contribute much to their decent partnerships with Karunaratne. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test at Harare

Malcom Waller soon came into the picture grabbing the key wicket of Kusal Mendis ,who stitched up a flamboyant hundred, the first time he batting in the match. This is been the week for debutants to punch above their weight and come out as winners, Mumba did exactly the same. Mumba first struck with the wicket of Kusal Mendis, nabbing him for a 29-ball 19.

Soon that one wicket became two, when centurion from the fist inning Upul Tharanga was dismissed for just one run. Zimbabwe were well and truly into the game at this moment as Sri Lanka stumbled to 117 for 4. Karunaratne continued with his stubborn knock as he kept falling short of partners.

Dhananjaya de Silva rose to the occasion, and consolidated Sri Lanka's inning with Karunaratne, who was already making merry with the bat. Just 2-Test old Dhananjaya displayed that he has a calm head over his shoulder and weathered any storm Mpofu and Greame Cremer were dishing out.

Dhananjaya mostly relied on singles and doubles, which is normalcy at the Harare Sports Club which has a larger field to play with. With Dhananjaya looking stable and at ease, Karunaratne started to display his array of shots.

Karunaratne is known to take his time and build on an inning which came in handy with the situation Sri Lanka were in. Karunaratne was nimble footed against the spinner, coming out of the crease on regular basis.

Karunaratne as the leader of the group took on the best bowler from the opposition side, milking Cremer for 31-runs from 41 balls. Karunaratne had lean patch going for himself in the home series against Australia, where he was just about to be dropped from the side. Such a resolute hundred in 162-ball will surely go a long way ensuring his place in the team remains unchallenged.

Karunaratne and Dhananjaya added valuable 94-runs for their side before the latter got out on 110. What?, would have hurt Karunaratne was the manner in which he got out. A soft dismissal to say the least. A slower delivery by Mpofu was judged wrongly by Karunarante, who handed a simple catch back to the bowler.

Soon, Dhananjaya along with Asela Gunaratne achieved a quick 30 run stand between themselves to help Sri Lanka cross the 400-run lead mark. Dhanajaya gifted Mumba his fourth wicket in an bid to score big runs. Just after his fall of wicket the rain god's interfered and decided to halt the match hanging majorly in favor of Sri Lanka.

Day Five ,will indeed ask for a more positive and aggressive approach from the Sri Lankan team, ideally Herath should have declared once the lead crossed the 400 run barrier. Herath along with Dimuth will be expected to do the bulk of the bowling throughout the day with much impetus following on the shoulders of their pace man in the early half of the first session.

Suranga Lakmal caused problems to the Zimbabwean batsmen in the first inning with his pace and bounce will fancy a bowl under more suitable conditions the second time around. Lahiru Kumara bowled well but was a bit wayward in his approach, will be wanting to display a better show.

For Zimbabwe, much will depend upon their top order batsmen Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza. Both Mawayo and Masakadza had a sturdy partnership in the first innings and will be hoped to produce the same goods. Zimbabwe strength is in their middle order, which if well oiled and machined can prove to be handful.

Craig Ervine, Seam Williams and Malcom Waller have in the past rescued their team to safety. Sri Lanka will not want to take them lightly given they have provided sporadic heroisms for Zimbabwe. Much will depend on how these player tackle Herath, who is known to rip batting line-up apart in fourth innings of a match.

Zimbabwe's first inning superstars in Peter Moor and Cremer will again to expected to re-kindle their scoring form but this time it might be all about survival which everyone knows is not their cup of hot-beverage. Donald Tiripano did manage to survive for long hours against Herath and Co. but on a fifth day track the table will have turned.

(Vishal Mehra is a reporter at CricketCountry, currently tripping on #BlackMirror and #TheFlashS03, enjoying his weekly dose of anime, monthly viewing of sitcoms, daily playing cricket once every few hours, and also venturing into table-tennis. Twitter handle is