Zimbabwe could create history in Sri Lanka after their batsmen fought back superbly to put the team firmly in the driver’s seat in the ongoing one-off Test against Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa Stadium on Sunday (July 16). The visitors have already made history by winning their maiden ODI series against the island nation and if they avoid any major slip up on the last two days of the Test, they are looking good to win their first Test against the hosts.
After taking a 10-run lead by bowling out the hosts for 346, Zimbabwe were staring down the barrel with left-arm spinner Rangana Herath running riot early on to leave them reeling at 23 for 4. However, led by Sikandar Raza’s stunning knock of 97 not out, Graeme Cremer and Co. finished the day on 252 for 6.
Raza was well-supported by Malcolm Waller who scored a 54-ball fifty and was unbeaten 57. The duo has already added 107 runs for the seventh wicket and would definitely look to add as many runs as possible before the bowlers take a shot at Sri Lanka’s fragile batting order.
“Guys are extremely positive after the one-day series. It was a great win and it helped all of us mentally. We’ve got a good chance here as well. We can go out there tomorrow and put on another 100 runs and It will give us a really good fighting chance,” Waller told journalists after the day’s play.
Waller admitted that the early collapse had put the pressure on the dressing room but said that the positivity in the dressing room returned by the end of the day.
“I think we can be very positive and the guys are happy in our changing room. Obviously, when you are coming out in the fourth innings, it’s always going to be very tough. It was a really shaky start and it put us under a lot of pressure in the changing room. It was a great partnership between Raza and Moor. I think that stabilised things and brought back the positivity. At the end of the day, we can be happy with what we have done,” Waller said.
“The dressing room was very quiet at lunch. It wasn’t an ideal start as we lost wickets quickly. We wanted to show that we mean business and it was a fine fight back,” he added.
The right-handed batsman further said that the wicket was not easy as it looked when he and Raza negated the Sri Lankan bowlers with utmost ease.
“I wouldn’t say that the wicket is really easy. We saw the odd one turning. You’re always going to get the odd one that turns and jump. I think we focused on concentrating on every ball and it’s never easy out there,” he said.
Waller began aggressively, reaching his fourth Test fifty off just 54 balls but adopted a cautious approach towards the end, scoring just 3 runs in the next 23 balls.
Speaking about that, he said: “I just try to play my cricket in the same way. I always like to be positive. I feel if I do that, I’m going to get my best. Whether it’s ODI cricket or Test cricket, I just like to go out there and play my shots and take strike as much as possible. Just stick along like that and today It worked out well and I was scoring nicely.”