|Ground:||Harare Sports Club, Harare|
|Scorecard:||Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka|
|Event:||Sri Lanka in Zimbabwe 2016/17|
DateLine: 1st November 2016
Rain has given Zimbabwe an unexpected boost in their bid to fight for a draw in the first Test match against Sri Lanka at Harare Sports Club.
Sri Lanka continued batting until after tea, taking their lead to 411 as they wanted to make sure of putting Zimbabwe out of the match altogether.
They may have regretted not declaring earlier, though, as the rain washed out the final 31 overs of play and naturally reduced the amount of time Zimbabwe will have to survive for a draw on the final day.
Sri Lanka were five without loss overnight, with Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva at the crease.
The pitch was still playing well on the whole, although there were a few widening cracks, causing the ball to keep low or otherwise misbehave if it hit them.
Chris Mpofu and Carl Mumba bowled well at the outset, and the batsmen had to play with care, finding it difficult to get the score moving at the rate they would have wished.
Karunaratne made one uppish drive for which Brian Chari in the covers dived in desperation, but could do nothing more than get his fingertips to it.
Then Mumba bowled a good delivery to Silva (7), which he played on to his leg stump off the inside edge; 17 for one.
Kusal Perera, a century-scorer of the first innings, quickly showed his authority by driving his second ball powerfully through the covers for four.
On the whole, the batsmen contented themselves with pushing the ball around the field mainly for ones and twos, which they did very skilfully, Karunaratne in particular.
At 72 Perera (17) sliced a drive off Malcolm Waller, but failed to cover the spin away from the left-hander, and Hamilton Masakadza at slip leapt to his left to take a fine catch.
Kusal Mendis settled in well and took the score past 100 in partnership with Karunaratne, but on the stroke of lunch he miscued a flick to leg off Mumba and skied a catch to mid-on.
He made 19, and Sri Lanka went in to lunch at 111 for three, with Karunaratne on 65.
Just two overs after lunch Mumba bowled a ball well outside the off stump to the new man, Upul Tharanga, who went for it half-heartedly, but edged a straight-forward catch to the keeper and was out for one; 117 for four.
The bowlers could do little to stop the steady flow of runs as Dhananjaya de Silva joined Karunaratne.
Karunaratne moved on to his century, which he brought up after facing 162 balls.
At this point Sri Lanka were 357 runs ahead, but with a day and a half to go there was no need to be thinking of a declaration yet.
Karunaratne reached 110 before being out to one of the easiest catches ever seen in Test cricket.
He was deceived by a slower ball from Mpofu, and lobbed the ball back to him in apparently slow motion.
His fine innings lasted 173 balls and hit seven fours, the score being 213 for five now.
Minutes later de Silva reached a very efficient fifty off 65 balls, notable for skilful placement of the ball and running.
Asela Gunaratne started his innings in similar fashion, and the teams went in to tea at 231 for five, with de Silva on 59 and Gunaratne 10 – the lead was now 395.
During the afternoon the sky had been clouding over, the humidity increased, and there were predictions of storms; the light was no longer as good as it had been.
As thunder rumbled in the distance, de Silva, perhaps deceived by the bounce, miscued a drive and hit a straight-forward catch to cover. He made 64 off 82 balls; 241 for six.
A few minutes later, at about half-past three, the umpires took the players off the field as the light deteriorated; the score was 247 for six, with Gunaratne on 16 and Perera one.
There was a short, sharp downpour, and when that stopped the ground staff started to remove the covers, only for a second burst of rain to stop them.
It was decided that no more play was possible.
Sri Lanka seem certain to declare overnight, leaving Zimbabwe to play out the final day, which will include an extra half-hour to make up for lost time, to secure a draw.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2016 Zimbabwe Cricket)
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