December 10, 2019
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    Sri Lanka capitulate to hand initiative back to Black Caps

    August 16, 2019

    GALLE, THURSDAY: Sri Lanka batsmen gave a reckless display of batting to hand the initiative back to New Zealand after their bowlers had done a splendid job in the morning session to capture the remaining five Kiwi wickets for 46 runs and bowl them out for 249 in the first Test played at the Galle International Cricket Stadium yesterday.
    Sri Lanka in their turn were strongly placed at one stage to take a handy first innings lead which could be vital on a wicket that is gradually beginning to deteriorate and favour the slow bowlers when they were 143-3, but Kusal Mendis who played a restrained knock of 53 attempted an extravagant drive off the penultimate ball before tea to be caught at slip to spark off an unnecessary middle order collapse that saw Sri Lanka end the second day on 227 for seven wickets.
    New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel celebrates with his captain Kane Williamson the dismissal of Kusal Mendis. – AFP Niroshan Dickwella and Suranga Lakmal restored some sanity into the batting later in the day by indulging in a useful unbroken 66-run partnership off 145 balls for the eighth wicket, that saw Sri Lanka trail New Zealand by 22 runs going into the third day today.

    Lakmal who had a good day with the ball claiming all four wickets to fall to the bowlers yesterday – the other was a run out (Tim Southee), looked more accomplished than some of his specialist batsmen playing sensible cricket to remain unbeaten on 28 scored off 79 balls inclusive of two fours and a six.

    Dickwella playing his usual game of sweeps and reverse sweeps survived to be on 39 not out off 74 balls with a solitary boundary.

    Mendis’ wicket opened the floodgates for New Zealand when nothing was happening as the batsmen who followed him Kusal Perera (1), Dhananjaya de Silva (5) and eventually Angelo Mathews (50) all perished to poor shots to bring the Kiwis back into the game.

    Mathews looked in good shape to play another big knock against New Zealand having scored 83, 120 not out, 33 not out and 22 not out against them in his last four Test innings a total of 330 for once out. But soon after completing his half century he too perished like Mendis before him.

    Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 18 runs either side of tea in a period of batting madness which they may have to regret if New Zealand set them a stiff target to chase in the fourth innings on a turning track.

    Having to bat last, it was imperative that Sri Lanka got a handy first innings lead, but it was not to be as left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel followed up his five-for in the 3-day practice game with another impressive five-wicket haul. When play resumed yesterday Lakmal sent back both overnight batsmen Ross Taylor and Mitchell Santner within the space of 16 balls. Taylor slashed at the first ball he received for the day and edged a catch behind the wicket to be dismissed without adding to his first day score of 86 and Santner was out not offering a shot to a ball that seamed back to catch him plumb in front for 13.

    Southee committed hara-kiri and ran himself out needlessly for 14 before Lakmal returned to clean up the tail by having Trent Boult caught in the deep for 18 - not before the batsman had got the ball embedded into his grille off a top edge while attempting a premeditated sweep from outside off stump, and then trapped last man Patel for a duck off successive deliveries to leave himself on the verge of a hat-trick when he bowls the first ball in the New Zealand second

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