Second Test


At Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, October 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. Drawn. Toss: Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe enforced the follow-on for the first time in Tests, but several factors conspired against a maiden victory. First, they did not score quickly enough - 2.45 an over - delaying the declaration until the third morning; secondly, Sri Lanka's tail used up valuable time on the fourth day, when it took 76 overs to remove their last four; thirdly, the Sri Lankan top order could not possibly bat as badly again as they had in their first innings, when four of them were caught behind down the leg side; and finally, the pitch was another slow, flat wicket, which gave the tiring Zimbabweans no assistance whatever. Thanks to their success in making Sri Lanka follow on, and to an accident of the weather, they spent three successive days out under a hot sun. Torrential rain had caused the entire match to be put back 48 hours and the rest day, which would have provided a break, was scrapped.

Queens became Tests cricket's 73rd venue and the second in Bulawayo. It was instantly graced by an outstanding innings from Houghton. His 266 was not only a career-best but the first Test double-hundred for Zimbabwe - whose previous highest was his own 121 against India in 1992-93. Houghton came in at five for two and was almost run out soon after, but he batted for eleven and a quarter hours and faced 541 balls, hitting 35 fours and three sixes, until Vaas, again Sri Lanka's best bowler, took the third new ball and immediately had him lbw with an in-swinger. He added 121 in 39 overs with Andy Flower for the fourth wicket and 100 in 38 with James for the sixth. The most impressive feature of his batting was his shot selection; he played only a handful of false strokes, yet showed both enterprise and cheek, reaching both 150 and 200 with reverse-swept fours.

After nearly 13 hours in the field, the Sri Lankans batted like tired men. Streak and Jarvis reduced them to 96 for six by tea. Crucially, however, rain washed out the final session; it was not until after tea the next day that they were finally bowled out, Gurusinha having orchestrated the resistance for five and a half hours. That left Zimbabwe what proved 115 overs to dismiss them again. Despite taking two wickets that night, they never looked like making serious inroads on the final day. The night-watchman, Dharmasena, who had survived for nearly five hours in the first innings, held out again for 99 minutes. The main obstacle, however, was Sanjeeva Ranatunga, who completed his second hundred in successive Tests off the very last ball. Much to the home side's irritation, Sri Lanka had taken the optional last half-hour of a dead match to allow him to reach his century. Jarvis finished with the remarkable match figures of 58-36-54-4.

A minute's silence was observed before play on the final day in memory of Sri Lankan board president Gamini Dissanayake, who was killed in Colombo by a suicide bomber the night before.

Close of play: First day, Zimbabwe 213-4 (D. L. Houghton 116*, G. J. Whittall 10*); Second day, Zimbabwe 427-8 (J. A. Rennie 15*, S. G. Peall 5*); Third day, Sri Lanka 96-6 (A. P. Gurusinha 39*, H. D. P. K. Dharmasena 0*); Fourth day, Sri Lanka 30-2 (S. Ranatunga 13*, H. D. P. K. Dharmasena 0*).

© John Wisden & Co