HARARE – Opener Kevin Kasuza struck a half-century on debut as Zimbabwe eased to 189 for two at the close on the opening day of the first test against Sri Lanka in Harare on Sunday.

The test is Zimbabwe’s first since November 2018, when they drew a series 1-1 in Bangladesh, and despite a slow run-rate they laid a platform for a big score.

Craig Ervine (55 not out) and Brendan Taylor (13 not out) will resume on day two, with 84 overs bowled before bad light brought a premature end to the first day.

Kasuza (63) put on 96 for the first wicket with Prince Masvaure (55), who also struck a maiden test half-century in his third game.

Ervine reached that milestone as well and it is the first time in Zimbabwe’s test history that their top three batsmen have past 50 in the same innings.

Masvaure was the first wicket to fall when he was caught by a diving Dimuth Karunaratne at mid-off from the left-arm spin of Lasith Embuldeniya.

Kasuza’s 214-ball vigil ended when he played around a full toss from fast bowler Lahiru Kumara and was adjudged lbw.

Kasuza is one of three debutants in the side along with seamer Victor Nyauchi and left-arm spinner Ainsley Ndlovu.

Zimbabwe are returning to international action having missed most of 2019 due to a suspension from the International Cricket Council over government interference in the running of the game.

The country’s Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) had suspended Zimbabwe Cricket, blaming it for maladministration following the national team’s failure to qualify for the Cricket World Cup in England.

The two-test tour by Sri Lanka was hastily arranged, having only been announced on January 8.

The second test will also be played at the Harare Sports Club starting on January 27.

Reuters