Dimuth Karunaratne's fourth Test century helped Sri Lanka build a formidable lead before rain thwarted their victory push over Zimbabwe in the first Test on the fourth day at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday (Nov 1). But the crucial moment came just before that when Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer fell for 43 to a rash shot with just over 10 overs remaining, and when he appeared set to save the game alongside tailender Car Mumba.
Mawoyo put up further resistance in a stand of 37 with Hamilton Masakadza that lasted nearly an hour, but his unfortunate dismissal for 37 sparked an ugly collapse from Zimbabwe. However a poor umpiring decision changed the complexion of the game, as Mawoyo was given out lbw to Perera by umpire Simon Fry, with replays showing that the ball was comfortably missing leg stump.
Sean Williams then picked out the man in the deep with a careless sweep, before Craig Ervine and Malcolm Waller were trapped lbw by Dilruwan Perera.
"The pitch was a bit slow and low, but when I got to the middle we were in a good situation so there was no pressure and I was able to play my normal game".
Suranga Lakmal (2 for 43) then started to get some swing and Zimbabwe was five down at lunch, but rallied to make a contest of it, with captain Graeme Cremer (43) again leading the way after his first-innings century. Kumara accounted for Peter Moor (7) with yet another lbw, but that was the only wicket before tea.
Needing four wickets in the final session to wrap the game up, Herath stepped forward to have Williams caught at slip for 40 before trapping Donald Tiripano lbw.
Zimbabwe's final batsman Chris Mpofu managed to hold off Rangana Herath to give Cremer his chance, and the 30-year-old duly went to three figures to cap an impressive feat for a batsman who averaged 10.75 prior to the Test. "I tell you a lot of credit goes to the fast bowlers", said Herath.
With a lead of 411, the tourists would have hoped to declare and have a bowl at the Zimbabwean top order, but while the rain lasted less than an hour the light failed to improve and so no further play was possible.