Rangana Herath captured three early wickets to rattle Zimbabwe’s top-order after Sri Lanka had conceded a 10-run lead on the third day of their one-off Test in Colombo on Sunday (July 16).
Zimbabwe were left reeling at 23 for 4 at lunch with Sean Williams unbeaten on one and the visitors leading by just 33 runs in their second innings.
Graeme Cremer, the captain, gave Zimbabwe the lead after his maiden five-wicket haul helped bowl out Sri Lanka for 346, but the visiting batsmen let the small advantage slip.
It was Herath’s left-arm spin that undid the fine work from Cremer (5 for 125), as the veteran bowler took the wickets of Hamilton Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda and Regis Chakabva.
Dilruwan Perera, the offspinner, joined forces to get the prized wicket of first-innings centurion Craig Ervine for 5 at the stroke of lunch.
Earlier, Cremer bowled Asela Gunaratne, the overnight batsman, for 45 as the Sri Lankan innings folded midway through the morning session.
Gunaratne, who will not field in this match after injuring his hamstring in the first innings, played with grit after being dropped down the batting order.
He formed crucial partnerships along the way, including a 48-run eighth-wicket stand with overnight partner Herath (22) to lift the home team from a precarious 274 for 7 on day two.
Despite needing medical assistance during his 110-ball knock, Gunaratne helped Sri Lanka add 53 crucial runs to their overnight score of 293 for 7.