Harare - Sri Lanka batsmen Kaushal Silva and Kusal Perera rode their luck as Zimbabwe dropped a series of catches on the opening day of the first Test at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
Silva was dropped once and Perera twice in the lead-up to tea, allowing Sri Lanka to reach the interval on 185 for one after they had won the toss and elected to bat first.
Zimbabwe had hoped to push Sri Lanka in their 100th Test match, and first under new coach Heath Streak, but were instead dogged by familiar problems with their fielding.
Opener Dimuth Karunaratne survived an early catching chance to make 56, and although he fell in the afternoon session when he was caught at midwicket off the bowling of Graeme Cremer, three further dropped chances cost the hosts dearly.
Wicketkeeper Peter Moor was unable to hold onto two thin edges - one from Silva and one from Perera - before Malcolm Waller dropped a simpler chance from Perera at long-on.
As a result, Silva went to tea unbeaten on 92, while Perera's streaky innings had progressed to 37.
Earlier, fast bowler Carl Mumba had become Zimbabwe's 100th Test player as they marked their 100th game in the format, and nearly took a wicket with his first ball when he found the shoulder of Karunaratne's bat, only for Sean Williams to put down a one-handed effort as he back-peddled at gully.
Sri Lanka handed debuts to teenage fast bowler Lahiru Kumara and all-rounder Asela Gunaratne, having been forced to leave five first-choice players back home due to injury.
Regular captain Angelo Mathews and vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal were among those ruled out of the two-Test series, and so left-arm spinner Rangana Herath captained Sri Lanka for the first time at the age of 38.