Wed, 26 Feb 2020

Embuldeniya strikes but Kasuza firm on debut

ESPNCricInfo
19 Jan 2020, 23:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

Tea Zimbabwe 108 for 1 (Kasuza 48*, Ervine 4*, Embuldeniya 1-38) v Sri Lanka

Zimbabwe's slow progress before lunch continued after the break, the score oozing forward at just 1.53 an over in the afternoon. They did lose the wicket of their senior opener Prince Masvaure, however, soon after he had reached a maiden half century. Debutant Kevin Kasuza, who had batted securely, but incredibly watchfully, on a slow-ish Harare track, stood two runs from his own fifty at the break. He was striking at 28.40, and had Craig Ervine for company.

Thirty overs were bowled in the second session, but it featured only five fours and a six. Kasuza hit three of those fours, two with the sweep, and one with a pleasant cover drive. The only six came off his bat as well, advancing to wallop Embuldeniya over long-off for six. He was almost out on 30, attempting a hook shot off Suranga Lakmal - the mis-hit not held by a diving Dimuth Karunaratne closing in from midwicket.

Occasionally, Kasuza would play and miss, particularly against Lahiru Kumara, but was generally incredibly selective with his strokeplay. Sri Lanka were perhaps guilty of not bowling enough deliveries that would have hit Kasuza's stumps, as they laboured outside the off stump.

Masvaure was not quite as circumspect as his partner, though he was not exactly in a hurry himself. His half century came off the 123rd delivery he faced, and he even slowed down a little after that - his final strike rate coming to 36.91. He was ruthless with the cut shot, but Sri Lanka's seamers rarely bowled too wide, and Masvaure was forced to look for singles elsewhere. He was eventually caught off the bowling of Embuldeniya, when he drove too early, and chipped aerially towards mid-off, where Karunaratne completed a good low catch. Karunaratne did himself an external injury during that dismissal, however, and was not seen on the field in the final overs of the session.

Although there was nothing in the pitch to enthuse either Sri Lanka's seamers or spinners, the visiting attack did, at least, starve the batsmen of scoring opportunities much better than they had done against Pakistan last month. Kasun Rajitha and Lakmal remained almost religiously on that off stump line, while Embuldeniya and Dhananjaya de Silva also maintained good control - the Zimbabwe batsmen declining to hit out and put them under pressure either.

Even Kumara, who had conceded 23 runs from his first five overs, before lunch, bowled a miserly spell in the second session, giving away only five runs in six overs - a sequence that included four maidens.

In the first session, Zimbabwe had been on 62 for no loss at lunch, with no clear chances coming Sri Lanka's way.

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