Sri Lanka went one step closer to winning the two-match Test series against New Zealand by avoiding the follow-on late on day three at the P Sara Oval in Colombo.
Thilan Samaraweera and Suraj Randiv had added an unbroken 97 for the seventh-wicket by the time stumps were pulled 25 overs early due to bad light.
Samaraweera and Randiv took to their task with relish and wore the spinners down for much of the afternoon and evening sessions. Samaraweera was also particularly harsh on Doug Bracewell’s seam bowling and repeatedly dispatched him for boundaries as he erred too short or too full.
Sri Lanka had started the day well as their overnight pair of Angelo Mathews and Tharanga Paranavitana batted for most of the first session. Both men survived chances – Paranavitana was dropped by Taylor at slip on 32 and Mathews came off best from a close LBW shout. However, Southee bowled an inspired spell with the old ball and removed both just prior to lunch.
Paranavitana edged a simple catch to Kruger van Wyk when on 40, while Mathews was spectacularly caught in the slips by Martin Guptill for 47. Lunch came and went, but Prasanna Jayawardene departed soon afterwards. He had already survived two stumping appeals off Jeetan Patel, but it proved third time unlucky as he aimed a slog sweep at the same bowler only to be caught by Kane Williamson on the square-leg boundary.
At this stage, Sri Lanka were still some way short of the follow-on target of 213, but, either side of tea, Samaraweera and Randiv ensured that what is probably the final obstacle to them drawing this match was overcome.
With all of the first three days shortened by either rain or bad light and the final two headed in the same direction, New Zealand will now find it hard to end Sri Lanka’s first innings, build a lead, and then bowl them out a second time in what is likely to be no more than 160 overs. Therefore, Sri Lanka will surely win the series 1-0, but at least New Zealand should avoid a sixth straight defeat.
© Cricket World 2012
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