Young captain Tatenda Taibu found positives in Zimbabwe's improved batting after they crashed to a second Test defeat to Sri Lanka.
Taylor's half-century delayed the inevitable for Zimbabwe
Opener Brendan Taylor hit a maiden Test half-century on the fourth morning, dalaying another innings victory.
"It has been hard work, and being in the field for two days was no fun," wicket-keeper Taibu said.
"Brendan Taylor is looking good and Stuart Matsikenyeri is improving but we need to improve in the middle order."
He explained: "The guys are getting starts and not following through."
Without 15 leading players, who were sacked last week in a selection row, Zimbabwe are scheduled to start a two-Test home series against world champions Australia on Saturday.
"It's going to be tough, but I expect the guys to keep improving, to play hard and work hard," Taibu, 21, added.
Sri Lanka skipper Marvan Atapattu hit 249 in a second-wicket stand of 438 with Kumar Sangakkara as the tourists became the 12th team to pass 700 in a Test innings.
Despite the strength of the opponent, Atapattu was pleased by his side's bowling.
"We did especially well to bowl Zimbabwe out twice on a wicket as good as this one was. That was a good effort," he said.