Zimbabwe’s first Test at home since 2017 wasn’t a happy one, especially given their second-innings collapse. But they will take solace in the application they showed at the start and end of their batting efforts. The batsmen got starts in the first innings, while Regis Chakabva braved 142 balls for 26 runs in his determination to force a draw.
It is unlikely they will tinker with their combination too much. It isn’t as yet clear if Kevin Kasuza, who was substituted in the first Test with a concussion, has recovered in time for the second match.
Sri Lanka too will have few complaints with a winning combination. Their bowlers’ patience was rewarded with wickets, reminding them the virtue of building pressure in batting-friendly conditions and cashing in once the surface changed to offer variable bounce.
Zimbabwe began promisingly, their top order patiently setting the foundation for a first-innings score of 358. In response, Kusal Mendis and Mathews overcame a faltering start to steady the innings. Mathews’ 200 not out, along with 63 for Dhananjaya de Silva and Niroshan Dickwella, carried Sri Lanka to 515/9 declared. Suranga Lakmal finished with a match-haul of seven, as did Lasith Embuldeniya, as the hosts came undone, crumbling to 170. Chasing the 14 runs needed, the visitors completed a 10-wicket win. While the Test will begin under clear skies, rain is forecast in Harare for the rest of the week, on days two, three and four of the match. The venue is the same and a similar track, which will get harder to bat on, is likely.