Sikandar Raza's 127 powered Zimbabwe to 377 in their second innings to establish a 387 run lead. © AFP

Sikandar Raza’s 127 powered Zimbabwe to 377 in their second innings to establish a 387-run lead. © AFP

Kusal Mendis scored a fluent half-century to keep Sri Lanka’s hopes of chasing down a record 388 alive on the fourth day of the one-off Test against Zimbabwe on Monday (July 17).

Sri Lanka crawled to 170 for 3 at stumps, with Mendis (60) batting alongside Angelo Mathews (17) at Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium. Sri Lanka’s highest-ever successful run chase was against South Africa in 2006, when they achieved a 352-run target in Colombo.

Graeme Cremer, the Zimbabwe skipper, dented Sri Lanka with his legspin, claiming the important wickets of Upul Tharanga (27) and his opposite number Dinesh Chandimal (15). Dimuth Karunaratne was bowled by Sean Williams for 49 as Zimbabwe persisted with an all-spin attack in the 48 overs bowled in the innings so far.

“We have got to watch out for Cremer. He is creating the most trouble. There is lot of assistance for the wrist spinner. We have already got 170 runs on the board … once the ball gets softer, it gets easier. If these two guys are able to hang in there for one and a half hours we will get into an interesting position.” – Dimuth Karunaratne

Mendis, who fought off hamstring trouble in the final session of play, put together an unbeaten 37-run stand with Mathews to take the delicately poised Test into its final day.

Zimbabwe were earlier bowled out for 377 in the second session, with Sikandar Raza (127) top-scoring with his maiden Test century. Cremer was the last man out for 48 off Rangana Herath, who returned figures of 6 for 133 to take his match tally to 11 wickets.

“Feels great to get my maiden Test hundred. All the batters put up a tremendous show. Brilliant effort by all the guys to get us into this position. The result of this game now can go our way.” – Sikandar Raza

Raza steered the team’s middle and lower order to help his side accumulate another 318 runs after being reduced to 59 for 5 on the third day. His 144-run partnership with Malcolm Waller (68) was the highlight of the Zimbabwe innings after the duo resumed on the overnight score of 252 for 6.