COLOMBO - Kusal Mendis scored a fluent half-century to keep Sri Lanka's hopes of chasing a record 388 alive on day four of the one-off Test against Zimbabwe on Monday. The hosts were 170 for three at stumps, with Mendis (60) batting alongside Angelo Mathews (17) at Colombo's R. Premadasa Stadium.

Sri Lanka's highest-ever successful run chase was against South Africa in 2006, when they achieved their 352-run target in Colombo. Zimbabwe skipper Graeme Cremer dented the hosts with his leg-spin, claiming the important wickets of Upul Tharanga (27) and his opposite number Dinesh Chandimal (15).

Opener Dimuth Karunaratne was bowled by left-arm spinner Sean Williams for 49 as the visitors persisted with an all-spin attack in the 48 overs bowled in the innings so far. Karunaratne said Cremer -- who bagged his maiden five-wicket Test haul in Sri Lanka's first innings -- would pose the biggest threat on a fifth-day track.

"We have got to watch out for Cremer. He is creating the most trouble. There is lot of assistance for the wrist spinner," Karunaratne told reporters.

"We have already got 170 runs on the board... once the ball gets softer, it gets easier. If these two guys are able to hang in there for one and a half hours we will get into an interesting position."

Mendis, who fought off hamstring trouble in the final session of play, put together an unbeaten 37-run stand with Mathews to take the delicately poised Test into its final day. 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.

Cremer was the last man out for 48 off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who returned figures of 6-133 to take his match tally to 11 wickets. The Pakistan-born Raza steered the team's middle and lower order to help his side accumulate another 318 runs after being reduced to 59-5 on day three.

Raza's 144-run partnership with Malcolm Waller (68) was the highlight of the Zimbabwe innings after the pair resumed on the overnight score of 252-6. "Feels great to get my maiden Test hundred," said all-rounder Raza, who also opened Zimbabwe's bowling with his off-spin. "All the batters put up a tremendous show. Brilliant effort by all the guys to get us into this position. The result of this game now can go our way."

Zimbabwe are seeking their first-ever Test win against Sri Lanka, who are looking for redemption under new Test captain Chandimal. He took over from Mathews, who resigned after calling the one-day series loss a "hard pill to swallow".

Scoreboard

ZIMBABWE 1ST INNINGS: 356

SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS: 346

ZIMBABWE 2ND INNINGS:

(OVERNIGHT: 252-6):

H Masakadza lbw b Herath            7

R Chakabva b Herath       6

T Musakanda c Karunaratne b Herath        0

C Ervine c Karunaratne b Perera   5

S Williams b Herath          22

S Raza b Herath  127

P Moor c sub b Kumara   40

M Waller c Tharanga b Perera      68

G Cremer c Karunaratne b Herath               48

D Tiripano lbw b Perera   19

C Mpofu not out               9

EXTRAS: (b4, lb14, w7, nb1)          26

TOTAL: (all out; 107.1 overs)        377

FOW: 1-14, 2-16, 3-17, 4-23, 5-59, 6-145, 7-289, 8-306, 9-361, 10-377

BOWLING: Lakmal 14-0-43-0; Herath 39.1-5-133-6; Perera 30-2-95-3; L. Kumara 20-3-72-1 (nb1, w3); K. Mendis 4-0-16-0

SRI LANKA 2ND INNINGS:

D Karunaratne b Williams              49

U Tharanga c Moor b Cremer       27

K Mendis not out              60

D Chandimal c Masakadza b Cremer          15

A Mathews not out          17

EXTRAS: (lb2)      2

TOTAL: (3 wkts; 48 overs)              170

FOW: 1-58, 2-108, 3-133

BOWLING: Raza 9-1-29-0; Williams 16-0-62-1; Cremer 19-0-67-2; Waller 4-0-10-0

TOSS: Zimbabwe

UMPIRES: Ian Gould (ENG), Nigel Llong (ENG)

TV UMPIRE: Chettithody Shamshuddin (IND)

MATCH REFEREE: Chris Broad (ENG)