Sri Lanka overcame spirited resistance from Zimbabwe to secure a 225-run victory at Harare Sports Club yesterday in the first Test of the two-match cricket series.
The tourists declared on their overnight total of 247-6 and let Zimbabwe, trailing by 411 runs, have a crack at batting out on the final day.
Facing such a mammoth task, Heath Streak’s side initially acquitted themselves well and had lost only one wicket by the end of the 29th over.
Suranga Lakmal (2-43) then started to get some swing and Zimbabwe were five down at lunch, but rallied to make a contest of it, with captain Graeme Cremer (43) again leading the way after his first-innings century, Sean Williams (40) also providing a stubborn rearguard action.
However, Williams went after tea and when Cremer was the ninth man out, there were still 10 overs remaining.
Sri Lanka needed just three to finally get the job done with Dilruwan Perera (3-34) cleaning up last man, Chris Mpofu, for a duck.
The hosts were understandably unadventurous in their play and Brian Chari’s 10 runs came off 51 balls before Lahiru Kumara (2-45) got one to dart back in and clean up his stumps.
Fellow opener, Tino Mawoyo was defiant in compiling a credible 37, but his departure was the first of four in as many overs as the hosts’ slim hopes faded further.
Craig Ervine fell lbw to Perera without scoring, while Lakmal took out Hamilton Masakadza (20) and Malcolm Waller (0) via the same method in the penultimate over before lunch.
Kumara accounted for Peter Moor (7) with yet another lbw, but that was the only wicket before tea.
Cremer, unbeaten on 102 in the first innings, came to the crease with a different remit this time and soaked up 20 overs alongside Williams.
The dismissal of Williams in the first over of the third session was key, as Rangana Herath (3-38) found the edge with the left-arm spinner, captaining his first Test at the age of 38, then sending Donald Tiripano back to the pavilion without scoring.
Cremer’s stubborn knock ended in the 88th over, stumped off Herath, and Mpofu was the last to fall, leaving a relieved Sri Lanka side to celebrate victory.
The second and final Test match will be played at the same venue starting on Sunday.