At the end of a topsy turvy second day in Galle, there was little to separate the teams as New Zealand won the first session, before Sri Lanka fought back in the second and the third was shared. At the end of it all, New Zealand lead by nine runs with nine second innings wickets remaining.
Sri Lanka’s day had begun badly as they slumped to 20 for four and 50 for five when faced with some accurate and threatening pace bowling from Trent Boult and Tim Southee. The equation, changed, however, as the ball got older, the movement lessened and the tourists’ change bowlers were introduced.
Tharanga Paranavitana had been first to go in the morning, playing a leaden-footed drive at a Southee away-swinger and dragging onto his stumps to join his fellow opener Dimuth Karunaratne in having departed for a duck. Night-watchman Suraj Randiv followed in Southee’s next over.
He was dropped by Brendon McCullum, but caught by Martin Guptill at slip immediately afterwards to make it 18 for three. Trent Boult then got in on the action by inducing Kumar Sangakkara to edge to McCullum at third slip, who this time hung on to make it 20 for four.
Thilan Samaraweera and Mahela Jayawardene added 30 for the fifth-wicket and looked as though they might be the pair to mend the innings. However, Samarweera unwisely decided to offer no stroke to a Southee in-ducker and was sent packing by the umpire for 17.
At this stage, the home side were in danger of capitulating, but captain Jayawardene was joined by his deputy Angelo Mathews and the two progressed to lunch without further loss of wicket, having advanced the score to 105. They capitalised on some wayward deliveries from the New Zealand change bowlers - in particular Doug Bracewell who was soon dispatched to the boundary by both batsmen.
Nothing changed after lunch as Sri Lanka added a further 85 runs in the afternoon session without losing a wicket. The movement that Southee and Boult had found in the morning had more or less evaporated and even Southee was unable to control the marauding Mathews and Jayawardene. He was hooked by Mathews twice - once convincingly, once not so - while the off-spin of Jeetan Patel was tucked into with relish by both men.
The runs came at a decent lick, with Mathews bringing up his fifty off 70 balls shortly after Jayawardene had done off 76. Patel was reverse swept by Mathews as tea came and went with the pair still to be separated.
After a barren afternoon, New Zealand’s bowlers rediscovered their wicket-taking ways in the evening and once Mathews had been removed by James Franklin to end the 156-run sixth-wicket partnership, the remainder didn’t last too long. Patel picked up a couple to end with three for 55, having clawed things back, while Boult ended with two by having last man Shaminda Eranga caught by Bracewell.
Southee remained the pick with four for 46, while Jayawardene was caught behind off Patel nine short of his ton. Sri Lanka were all out and had a mere 26-run first innings lead.
Rangana Herath did send Brendon McCullum back to the pavilion in the 10 overs that New Zealand faced in their second innings, but they closed ahead on 35 for one in what is now effectively a one-innings shootout.
© Cricket World 2012
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