Dimuth Karunaratne and Upul Tharanga helped Sri Lanka reach 56 without loss at tea on Monday (July 17) after the hosts were set a record 388 to win the one-off Test against Zimbabwe.
Karunaratne (29) and Tharanga (27) took the attack to the opposition bowlers as Zimbabwe unleashed an all-spin assault on the fourth day of the match at the R Premadasa Stadium.
Sri Lanka’s highest-ever successful run chase was against South Africa when they achieved their 352-run target in the 2006 Colombo Test.
The hosts, who suffered a shock defeat in the preceding one-day series against Zimbabwe, still require another 332 to win with all their wickets intact.
Zimbabwe were earlier bowled out for 377 in the second session with Sikandar Raza (127) top-scoring for the visitors with his maiden Test century.
Graeme Cremer, the skipper, was the last man out for 48 off Rangana Herath, the left-arm spinner who returned figures of 6 for 133 to take his match tally to 11 wickets.
Raza, born in Pakistan, steered the team’s middle and lower order to help his side accumulate 318 runs after being reduced to 59 for 5 on day three.
Raza’s 144-run partnership with Malcolm Waller (68) was the highlight of the Zimbabwe innings after the duo resumed play on the team’s overnight score of 252 for 6.
Zimbabwe are seeking their first-ever Test win against Sri Lanka, who are looking for redemption under Dinesh Chandimal, their new Test captain.
Chandimal took over from Angelo Mathews, who resigned after calling the one-day series loss a “hard pill to swallow”.