HARARE: Rangana Herath recorded the best figures by a bowler in a Test in Zimbabwe as Sri Lanka completed a 257-run victory in the second Test at the Harare Sports Club on Thursday to sweep the series 2-0.
Sri Lanka went into the final day needing just three wickets to wrap up the match, and skipper Herath required less than an hour to claim them as he finished with eight wickets in the second innings, bowling Zimbabwe out for 233.
The left-arm spinner’s 8 for 63 were the best figures in an innings by a player in Zimbabwe, while his 13 for 152 were the best figures in a match.
“I am always trying to improve,” said the 38-year-old. “I don’t think about records and will take each series as it comes.”
Zimbabwe’s only real hope of pushing Sri Lanka on day five rested with Craig Ervine, who resumed on 65 not out with Zimbabwe on 180 for seven in pursuit of 491 for victory.
But the left-hander was the first batsman to fall as Herath, standing in as captain for the injury-hit Sri Lankan side, had him well caught by Dhananjaya de Silva at slip for 72.
Carl Mumba was next to go, trapped lbw by the left-arm spinner, and although last man Chris Mpofu provided some entertainment as he lofted two huge sixes, he fell to Herath in the same fashion to bring the game to a close.
“His control was exceptional,” Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer said of Herath. “He doesn’t look like he’s doing a lot, but he’s got subtle variations that as a batsman you don’t pick up.
“Only when you watch the replays afterwards do you realise what he was trying to do.”
Zimbabwe lost both games by large margins, but took both Tests into the final day and nearly secured a draw in the first match.
“We’re happy they’ve gone five days, and there were a lot of positives for us,” said Cremer. “But a lot of the mistakes we made at crucial times, like dropping silly catches, changed the games in a huge way. We need to improve on that.”
Sri Lanka’s victory proved a lot easier than their success in last week’s first Test, also in Harare, when they almost ran out of overs before eventually dismissing Zimbabwe to win by 225 runs.
The two sides will next be joined by the West Indies for a triangular One-day International series in Zimbabwe, which starts in Harare on Monday with the hosts playing Sri Lanka in the opening fixture.