Atappatu and Jayasuriya put Sri Lanka in control

Sri Lanka 456 for 7 (Atapattu 170, Jayasuriya 157) lead Zimbabwe 199 by 257 runs

Sri Lanka, as expected, took little mercy on Zimbabwe's inexperienced bowlers on the second day of the first Test at Harare. The highlight was a superb opening stand of 277 between Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya, who both passed 150. But it did not go all Sri Lanka's way, as Zimbabwe had a few surprises for their middle order in the final session. However, Sri Lanka closed a good day's work on 456 for 7.

Atapattu and Jayasuriya provided the backbone of Sri Lanka's innings. They batted throughout the morning session and Zimbabwe were firmly on the back foot. But just as minds started to wander about record team and individual scores, Zimbabwe did at least gain some pride as the last four wickets of the day fell for only 27 runs.

The opening pair chose to compile their total by steady accumulation rather than the explosive power for which Jayasuriya, in particular, is renowned. He reached his half-century from 56 balls, and it took him only another 34 to reach his 12th Test hundred. In that time, he suddenly decided to erupt when in the 70s, hitting Mluleki Nkala for 18 in one over and racing to his hundred off only 90 balls.

Atapattu was not to be overshadowed, and in a less spectacular way he too began to accelerate after reaching his half-century, having been dropped on 43. He made Zimbabwe pay, reaching his 13th Test ton in the last over before lunch. Accuracy of bowling may have saved this Zimbabwe team from too much pain during the one-day series, but it was proving totally inadequate on a good pitch against quality batsmen with time on their hands.

It was Tatenda Taibu, the captain, who surprisingly made the breakthrough after he handed over the wicketkeeping duties to Alester Maregwede and came on to bowl. Jayasuriya hit his first ball past midwicket for four, but perhaps a touch of complacency set in as he misjudged the third ball and played an indeterminate shot which lobbed off his gloves to Douglas Hondo in the gully (281 for 1). His 157 came off only 147 balls, including 28 fours and three sixes.

Kumar Sangakkara, the most successful batsman on tour until now, may have been hindered by his long wait, as he had made only 11 when he top-edged a sweep off Stuart Matsikenyeri's occasional offspin to give Taibu an easy catch at backward square leg (312 for 2).

Taibu should have taken the gloves back, as Maregwede dropped both Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene shortly before tea. But after the interval, the bowlers rocked the Sri Lankan middle order, due partly to their own efforts, and partly from complacency by the batsmen.

Jayawardene was the first to go, pulling a short ball from Elton Chigumbura a little carelessly directly to Prosper Utseya at midwicket for 37 (369 for 3). Shortly afterwards, Zimbabwe took the second new ball which triggered a minor collapse. With his fourth ball of a new spell, Hondo took the prized wicket of Atapattu for 170, clean bowling him as he played a loose shot without any footwork. However, it was a magnificent innings of 170 from 253 balls, including 24 fours.

Tinashe Panyangara then chipped in with two wickets in quick succession. Good outswingers accounted for Thilan Samaraweera, caught behind by Taibu (399 for 5), and Prasanna Jayawardene, who was bowled (403 for 6). Tillakaratne Dilshan then fell in the same manner as Mahela Jayawardene, pulling a short ball from Blessing Mahwire straight to Utseya at midwicket (414 for 7).

Although Sri Lanka were by that stage over 200 runs ahead, play continued as if Zimbabwe were on top, with Chaminda Vaas and Farveez Maharoof playing very carefully before the close.