Harare: An unbroken stand of 75 between Upul Tharanga and Dhananjaya de Silva saw Sri Lanka reclaim control after pressure from Zimbabwe on the opening day of the second and final Test at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Tharanga and De Silva came together with Sri Lanka struggling on 112 for four after they lost the toss and were inserted by Zimbabwe, but by tea the pair had carried the tourists to 187 for four.
Both batsmen were willing to be patient as they orchestrated the recovery, after the collapse had largely come about through some reckless batting by the top order.
Zimbabwe's search for wickets at the top of the innings was hampered by fast bowler Carl Mumba limping off after the first over, and when Sri Lanka's openers preyed on some inconsistent bowling to advance to 62 without loss it appeared as though the hosts faced a long day in the field.
With Mumba off the field receiving medical treatment, Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer was forced to turn to part-time seamer Hamilton Masakadza inside the first hour, but after the drinks break Masakadza made an unexpected breakthrough.
First, Dimuth Karunaratne guided an innocuous delivery to gully to depart for 26, and in Masakadza's next over, Kusal Perera's decision to attack the seamer from the get-go brought about his downfall as he holed out to long-on.
Mumba was able to return to the field soon after, but it was fellow fast bowler Chris Mpofu who struck before lunch when he trapped Kaushal Silva lbw for 37.
Although Silva asked for a review, he took too long to do so and so his request was denied. Hawk-Eye showed that the delivery from Mpofu would have missed leg stump.
Sri Lanka went to lunch on 105 for three, and were in trouble soon after the interval when Kusal Mendis edged Donald Tiripano behind to depart for 26.
But Tharanga and De Silva gradually steadied the innings, with the former reaching tea on 50 not out, and De Silva going in unbeaten on 40.
Both sides named an unchanged line-up from the first Test, which Sri Lanka won by 225 runs.