Sri Lanka stretch lead over Zimbabwe to 411 before rain

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Harare, Zimbabwe (AP) — Sri Lanka stretched their lead over Zimbabwe to 411 before rain intervened to curtail the final session on Day 4 of the first test at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday.

Sri Lankan batsman Dimuth Karunaratne plays a shot during the first test against Zimbabwe in Harare, Tuesday, Nov, 1. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Sri Lankan batsman Dimuth Karunaratne plays a shot during the first test against Zimbabwe in Harare, Tuesday, Nov, 1. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Opener Dimuth Karunaratne made 110 in Sri Lanka’s second innings and the tourists were 247-6 when rain washed out the last hour-and-a-half of the day’s play.

The rain delay makes it a little easier for Zimbabwe’s hopes of saving the test and keeping the two-match series level.

With Sri Lanka 5-0 overnight, Karunaratne’s fourth test century helped the tourists score at nearly four runs an over on the fourth day as they put themselves in position to push for victory against test cricket’s strugglers.

Karunaratne was part of a 94-run partnership with Dhananjaya de Silva (64) for the fifth wicket, the best of the innings, to keep Sri Lanka surging ahead.

Debutant Zimbabwe fast bowler Carl Mumba took 4-50 to lead the attack for the home team, who are playing their 100th test.

That impressive performance barely held up Sri Lanka, though, as Karunaratne hit seven fours and De Silva five fours and a six.

Sri Lanka are on course for a fourth straight test win after an impressive 3-0 series whitewash of Australia in August.

Although Harare Sports Club has offered a good batting strip for this test, the statistics are against Zimbabwe: The highest fourth-innings score at the ground is 310, made by Zimbabwe in 2002.

That will leave Zimbabwe thinking only about trying to save a draw and avoid a 63rd loss in those 100 tests.