April 25, 2000

Zimbabwe frustrations threaten to boil over

On an extremely hot and humid day at welegedara stadium in kurunegala sri lanka's opening batsmen responded to the zimbabwean first innings score of 306 in emphatic fashion, reaching 231for the loss of just one wicket at the close. The highlight of the innings being a magnificent 129 off 193 balls by avishka gunawardena.

This was a frustrating day for this young zimbabwean side. Not only did their opening bowler have retire to the dressing room for treatment of a back strain after just five overs, but they appeared unlucky to have three confident appeals turned down by umpire b.c. Cooray during the afternoon session. So convinced were the fielding side that hewage had touched the deliveries from matambanadzo and price, that for the first time in the series, frustrations threatened to boil over.

When umpire, b.c. Cooray, refused to uphold their appeal their was visible disbelief on the faces of the fielders and a delay in play as they took time to register their feelings. Words were exchanged from various quarters and the tension eventually compelled cooray to speak to gus mackay.

Whether cooray's decision was correct or not the real root of the zimbabwean's frustration was undoubtedly the fine batting of the sri lankan openers and their own inability to maintain a tight line and length. The sri lankan's scored their runs at nearly four runs an over. Whilst praising the quality of the batsmen's strokeplay, kevin curran pointed to the lack of concentration shown by the bowlers.

"The guys lack experience of this type of cricket and this makes it difficult for them to concentrate like they should. We bowled too many bad balls and gave the batsmen too much width. Going for nearly 4 runs an over you are never going to be able to control the opposition."

This does not take anything away from the quality of avishka gunawardena's exhilarating innings. He batted quite superbly. As per usual he started like a wild buffalo, smashing the opening bowlers through the covers and over mid-on. However when the spinners were introduced in the 10th over of the innings he tempered his aggression and played in a much more calculated manner. Despite there being something of a `crash bang' label attached to this young batsmen, one cannot ignore the ease with which he middles the ball and an important ability to hit straight. There appears to be a sound technical foundation to his explosive style.

His partner, pradeep hewage (81*), was far more cautious early on but gradually grew in confidence, especially against the spinners. Possessing a very closed stance his batting style is ascetically quite awkward but extremely workmanlike, even if he was lucky to not have been adjudged lbw.

In the morning session zimbabwe added 62 runs in 21 overs before they were bowled out. They reached the 300 mark thanks to a blistering innings by their experienced captain, gus mackay, who scored 35 of 48 balls. Hi undefeated innings combined a mixture of bold offence and patient defence. A naturally aggressive batsmen he was prepared to hit anything loose.