Millennium Post

Lanka in dogged battle to save 1st Test

Lanka in dogged battle to save 1st Test
New Zealand had the scent of victory after only the second day of the first Test against Sri Lanka on Saturday after a  scintillating bowling spell forced the tourists to follow on 303 runs in arrears.

After New Zealand posted 441 in their first innings at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, a four-pronged pace attack led by Trent Boult dismissed Sri Lanka for 138 inside 43 overs. “That first innings was something special. It just seemed to happen against a quality side so it was brilliant,” New Zealand’s chief destroyer Boult said after returning figures of three for 25 off 11 overs.

Sri Lanka made a more solid start to their second innings, reaching 84 without loss at stumps, but with three days remaining they were still 219 runs in arrears and Boult believed the signs were good for New Zealand.

“It’s a great opportunity to win a Test match in New Zealand,” the left-arm quick said. He described the pitch as “inconsistent” with the amount of assistance it gave but said if the New Zealand bowlers kept the pressure on “then I think we’re going to be successful”.

New Zealand had resumed the second day at 429-7 and lost their last three wickets for a cheap 12 runs in 32 balls as their innings folded for 441.

The quick end signalled that the bowlers had found how to exploit the green-tinged surface and 13 wickets fell in two sessions after the batsmen led by New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum’s 195 had dominated the first day.

In a pre-lunch onslaught Boult ripped through Sri Lanka’s top order starting with the removal of Dimuth Karunaratne for nought with his fourth delivery to bring up his 100th Test dismissal. He followed with the wickets of Kaushal Silva for four and Sri Lanka dangerman Kumar Sangakarra for six. Sangakkara was six runs short of becoming only the fifth player to reach 12,000 Test runs when he was beaten by a late swinging Boult delivery that caught an outside edge and was snapped up by Tim Southee at third slip. 

Southee split the webbing between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand securing the catch and required five stitches. But the injury did not affect his right-arm deliveries and after a tight but fruitless opening spell he joined the action after lunch, claiming Lahiru Thirimanne (24) 
and Niroshan Dickwella (two) in the space of four balls. 
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