Solid Zimbabwe strikes back

Updated 07 November 2016

Solid Zimbabwe strikes back

HARARE: An unbroken century stand between Brian Chari and Craig Ervine gave Zimbabwe a solid start after Asela Gunaratne’s maiden Test hundred had carried Sri Lanka to 504 on the second day of the second Test at Harare Sports Club on Monday.
Playing just his second Test, Gunaratne scored 116 to marshal the tail to good effect and frustrate the Zimbabwean bowlers, before his dismissal brought the end of the Sri Lankan innings on the stroke of tea.
When Rangana Herath opened the bowling and grabbed the wickets of Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza to reduce Zimbabwe to 17 for two, the hosts looked to be embarking on one of their trademark batting collapses.
But Chari and Ervine added 109 for the third wicket without being parted, taking Zimbabwe to stumps on 126 for two with both batsmen closing the day on 60 not out.
“We would have liked to have a few more wickets down but hopefully we can grab a few early on tomorrow,” said Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford.
“We’ve seen Rangana turn some deliveries this evening, so once he gets a few going he becomes more of a factor.”
The tourists began the day on 290 for five, with Gunaratne on 13, and despite losing centurion Dhananjaya de Silva they were able to make rapid progress during the morning session.
De Silva was caught and bowled by leg-spinner Graeme Cremer for 127, before Gunaratne added 54 for the seventh wicket with Dilruwan Perera at a swift rate.

Perera was then trapped lbw by Cremer for 34, but Gunaratne went to lunch on 64 having helped Sri Lanka add 124 runs in the session.
After lunch the 30-year-old increased his rate of scoring further in a 75-run stand for the eighth wicket with captain Rangana Herath, who made 27.
Seamer Donald Tiripano had Herath caught behind and then bowled Suranga Lakmal, but No. 11 Lahiru Kumara held on long enough for Gunaratne to reach three figures and carry the score past 500.
It was the fifth straight Test match in which Zimbabwe, who trail 1-0 in the two-match series, had conceded 500 runs in an innings.
Under pressure after two failures in the first Test, Chari not only put up stern resistance, but also took the attack to Sri Lanka.
The right-hander became the first Zimbabwean Test player to hit his first ball for six as he lofted Herath over long-on — then repeated the stroke to go to his maiden Test fifty.
While Chari had two lbw decisions overturned on review, Ervine was generally untroubled as he stroked eight boundaries and the partnership rattled along at 3.7 runs per over.
“It was an individual plan to be more positive in the way that we got ourselves in,” said Ervine.
“We need to turn up for that first hour tomorrow, and then the first session, and try and get through without losing a wicket.”


Federer sets up Djokovic showdown

Updated 29 January 2020

Federer sets up Djokovic showdown

  • Federer, 38, now goes into an unmissable semifinal with Djokovic

MELBOURNE: Swiss great Roger Federer said “I believe in miracles” after he saved seven match points in a five-set nail-biter against 100th-ranked Tennys Sandgren to go into an Australian Open semifinal with Novak Djokovic on Tuesday.

The six-time champion, struggling physically, saved three match points at 4-5 in the fourth set and four more in the tie breaker to scrape through 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-3.

Federer, 38, now goes into an unmissable semifinal with Djokovic, who blunted Milos Raonic’s razor serve to win 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) and move two wins from an eighth Melbourne title.

Djokovic, despite trouble with his contact lenses, ended Raonic’s run of 63 straight games in the tournament without a break of serve and moves smoothly into the semis for the loss of just one set so far.

He paid tribute to the great escape by Federer, ahead of a semifinal that reprises his epic win over the Swiss in last year’s Wimbledon decider.

“What he did today was really amazing, to come back and save seven match points at his age,” Djokovic said.

“He’s still playing such a great tennis and proving that he deserves to be up there. He’s a great fighter. Obviously I have lots of respect for him.” Federer’s match was incident-packed and he received a rare warning for an audible obscenity before going off-court for treatment on a groin injury.

Still hampered by the injury, he somehow forced a fifth set and began to regain control against the big-serving American.

“I believe in miracles,” Federer said, revealing that he thought his groin strain had ended his chances. “There could be rain, there could be all kinds of stuff.

“(I thought) just let him finish me off in style, and he didn’t do that. I’m incredibly lucky tonight, today — I don’t even know what time it is.”

Sandgren, achingly close to becoming the lowest-ranked player to beat Federer at the Australian Open, can count himself unlucky especially after a ball girl accidentally collided with him during the pivotal tie-breaker, which he lost.

Federer has made heavy weather of reaching his 46th Major semifinal. He was two points from defeat by John Millman in a fifth-set tie-breaker in round three, and dropped a set against 67th-ranked Marton Fucsovics in round four.

In the women’s draw Australia’s world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty dismissed two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in impressive style to reach the semis for the first time.

The unflappable Barty beat the Czech 7-6 (8/6), 6-2 and will be favorite in her semifinal against America’s Sofia Kenin — sending hopes soaring of a first home winner in 42 years.