Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, Only Test, Colombo, 1st day July 14, 2017

Ervine's 151* headlines Zimbabwe's day

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Zimbabwe 344 for 8 (Ervine 151*, Raza 36, Waller 36, Herath 4-106) v Sri Lanka
Scorecard and ball-by-ball updates

Craig Ervine's unbeaten 151 was his highest Test score, going past the 146 he made against New Zealand last year © AFP

The score was 38 for 2 when Craig Ervine came to the crease. Within 10 overs, Zimbabwe would slip further, to 70 for 4, on a track that already seemed to be spitting. But for the remainder of the day, Ervine resisted Sri Lanka's spinners, and Colombo's sticky heat, to drive his team to a strong position, and himself to 151 not out. The lower order rallied around him, No. 10 Donald Tiripano - in particular - contributing 24 to an as-yet unbroken 62-run stand. Zimbabwe ended the day at 344 for 8, when at one time, it appeared as if 200 might be a struggle.

Sri Lanka were reliant - as ever - on Rangana Herath for breakthroughs, and though he had two wickets in his first three overs, could claim only two further scalps in his next 27. Dilruwan Perera had Sean Williams top edge a sweep to square leg, but was largely unthreatening - outstripped for menace even by Asela Gunaratne, who was expensive, but beat the bat and claimed two wickets. On a track as slow as this, Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara were always going to struggle. The main positive for Sri Lanka, is that on the first day of Dinesh Chandimal's leadership, they took all their chances, and fielded with uncharacteristic zest.

Ervine was measured to begin with. It took him 13 balls to score a run, and his first 50 deliveries brought just 19. Then the offside strokes began to flow - drives to overpitched deliveries mainly, but soon, cuts as well. Steadily growing confident through the day, reverse sweeps eventually began to prove productive, paddles around the corner were increasingly deployed, and though the likes of Herath would beat his bat late into the day, the quicks did not trouble him at all.

The hundred - the second of his career - came not long after tea, via a sweep off Herath. The maiden 150 was achieved in the penultimate over of the day. Along the way, Ervine had struck 13 fours - most of these on the off side - and a six over wide long on. The significant partnerships he was involved in, were many. There was an 84-run fifth-wicket recovery alongside Sikander Raza for a start, then a 65-run seventh-wicket stand with Malcolm Waller, which put Zimbabwe within range of a fine first innings total. The stand that hurt Sri Lanka most, perhaps, was the one he wrought with Tiripano - a brisk, busy association, during which Zimbabwe scored at almost four an over. Where at one point in the day, it appeared as if Zimbabwe would roll over, Sri Lanka know now that they are in a fight.

The hosts would have had such different hopes for the day. Herath, introduced by Chandimal in the eighth over, struck with his third ball, as Regis Chakabva played all around a delivery that dipped near his feet, and would go on to hit the stumps. Not long after, Hamilton Masakadza - one of Sri Lanka's tormentors from the ODIs - had popped a catch to short leg off the insede edge of the bat. Sean Williams attempted to counterattack Zimbabwe out of their early troubles, and wound up top edging a ball he tried to sweep against the turn, and Tarisai Musakanda, on debut, was the day's only victim of seam bowling. He was originally ruled not out when Sri Lanka appealed for a catch off Lahiru Kumara's bowling. Upon review, however, a faint edge was detected and that decision overturned. Musakanda's 6 was also the only single-figure score on the Zimbabwe card, though no one apart from Ervine mustered a fifty. Raza and Waller came closest, hitting 36 apiece.

Although it was clear towards the end of the day that Zimbabwe were en route to a score of around 300, Sri Lanka perhaps would not have expected Tiripano to bat with such skill. He has a first-class hundred to his name however, and if he can support Ervine further in the morning, Zimbabwe might turn this from a highly competitive score to a commanding one.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ecgen02330152 on July 15, 2017, 5:09 GMT

    Good stuff by SL. With the captaincy change we may see some improvement in the side. Sri Lanka's got brilliant talent, the only issue was the execution. Can't wait until SL becomes favourites again.

  • ecgen02330152 on July 15, 2017, 4:37 GMT

    SL has to bat well. I hope they win this test, so they could climb back up from the hole they fell into. They must win this test, and the India series.

  •   Shamil Mohamed on July 15, 2017, 4:29 GMT

    dilruwan is consevative selection. probably, because the selectors were bit vary whether our batters will be able to make enough runs or survive. since dilruwas can bat it helps to extend teams batting capacity. sadakan should have been an aggressive selection, but selectors but dotn have confidents in him because any leg spinner will have exceptional days and very bad days. and we found this out during the odi. but the selectors as usual cant make up their mind and they went with a conservative selection. and why are we playing two pacies. didnt we play one pacie with the aussies. this is where we dont know from where to laugh at out our selectors.

  • Alex on July 15, 2017, 4:21 GMT

    Normally no one comment on zimbabwe game and now everyone following atleast asian viewers.

  • cluelessjan1 on July 15, 2017, 3:24 GMT

    totally agree with @jeewaka bowling coaches should be replaced the sl team and coaching staff as well need new blood.

  • Monty on July 15, 2017, 3:20 GMT

    I like the way that the Zimbabweans are fighting on this tour. I believe the Sri Lankan will come hood and perhaps win the test, but boy aren't they being challenged here? This is good for world cricket.

  • Ajith on July 15, 2017, 2:46 GMT

    Tough task ahead for SL as Zimbabwe have the upper hand on Day one with yet another controlled batting effort.It's going to be an interesting battle if SL is to make a match of it as the bowlers were found wanting once again.Hopefully a good disciplined batting effort by SL is expected today.

  • subhasish on July 15, 2017, 2:44 GMT

    Sri Lanka should prepare turning pitches if they wants to beat good test teams they play against India next if they prepare flat pitches they will struggle to take 20 wickets they should prepare spin friendly wickets

  •   Cricinfouser on July 15, 2017, 2:28 GMT

    Dilruwan shouldnt be playing against teams who are good at playing spin , it is easy to figure out that he doesnt spin any

  • hamida8958329 on July 15, 2017, 2:05 GMT

    U wonder what slc were doin when

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