Captain Fantastic, Graeme Cremer century saves the day as Zim avoids the follow on

Cremer became the first Zimbabwean skipper and the 7th overall captain to score a century and take 4 wickets in the same Test match as Zimbabwe accumulated 373 in their first innings in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 537.
After gaining a first-innings lead of 164 runs, the Sri Lankan openers, Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunarathne survived the late three-over burst to score 5 runs and put the visitors 1690runs ahead at stumps.

After struggling at 139 for 6 in the opening session, a brilliant rearguard effort from Zimbabwe’s middle and lower order, led by Cremer assisted by Peter Moor’s career-best 84-ball 79 and Donald Tiripano’s excellent 46 ensured Sri Lanka could not enforce the follow-on.

Moor and Cremer played the Lankan bowlers on merit and dispatched the loose deliveries which prompted Rangana Herath to set defensive fields during their important 132-run stand for the 7thwicket. Moor slammed 6 fours and 3 sixes to put his wicket-keeping miseries aside but took his eyes off the ball to a well-directed bouncer by teenage debutant, Lahiru Kumara and spooned it to gully where Dilruwan Perera took a brilliant diving catch.

Tiripano was resolute during his stand worth 92 runs for the 8th wicket with Captain Cremer but was trapped plumb in front by the part leg-spin of Kusal Mendis. Debutant Carl Mumba and last man, Christopher Mpofu was dismissed by Herath and Suranga Lakmal respectively to wrap up the innings but Cremer’s stunning innings of unbeaten 102 runs off 207 balls which included 10 classic boundaries would go into the history books as one of the greatest ever knocks by a Zimbabwean.

Earlier in the first session, fast-bowler  Lakmal removed both the overnight batsmen, Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza inside four balls as the visitors struck early on day three. Mawoyo top-edged a short delivery which needed to be left alone and gave an easy catch to deep square-leg fielder, debutant Asela Gunaratne as the 70-run second wicket stand came to an end.

In the next over bowled by Lakmal, Masakadza nicked to first slip on 33 where Dimuth Karunarathne held on to a waist-high catch. Karunaratne dropped the same batsman off the same bowler yesterday when he had only scored a run.

Captain, Rangana Herath got the better of Sean Williams for 10 as the left-hander attempted a conventional sweep which took the top-edge of the willow and flew to mid-wicket where Dilruwan Perera grabbed another easy take.

After a brief 23-run stand for the 5th wicket between Craig Ervine and Malcolm Waller, Dilruwan Perera trapped the former plumb in front for just 12 with a delivery which went on with the arm and caught the left-hander rooted to the crease.

Malcolm Waller played across the line on the back foot to a straighter delivery by Perera and was given LBW for 22 as the hosts lost their 5th wicket in the first two-hour session.

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