Karunaratne, Mathews frustrate New Zealand



Dimuth Karunaratne (79) and Angelo Mathews (70 not out) rebuilt the Sri Lankan innings. © Getty

Dimuth Karunaratne (79) and Angelo Mathews (70 not out) rebuilt the Sri Lankan innings but New Zealand continued to stay on top at Tea on the opening day of the first Test at the Basin Reserve on Saturday (December 15). Reduced to 9 for 3, and in danger of a being bundled out early, the Sri Lankan duo scored 133 for the fourth-wicket to take the side to 167 for 4.

Mathews walked in with the team in serious danger of suffering an embarrassing collapse. Tim Southee had accounted for all three wickets and the ball moved just enough to keep everyone on their toes. Put in, Southee trapped Danushka Gunathilaka plumb in front and then had Dhananjaya de Silva caught behind with a beauty that pitched on off and moved away just a touch to take the outside edge. Kusal Mendis, keen on showing positive intent, flicked all his four deliveries to the on side. The fourth one, the most innocuous of all that was on the pads, was successfully hit straight to midwicket much to the frustration of an already nervous dressing room.

The plan for Mathews and Karunaratne was simple – they wanted to see off the first hour. And they did just that. More importantly, they didn’t go searching for runs. Once Southee’s spell was seen off, they weren’t too keen to attack Colin de Grandhomme and Neil Wagner. Instead, all the energies were focussed on settling down and accessing the conditions. The stand moved forward beautifully as the sun came out to ease things a bit. The movement off the deck reduced as the ball got old and there were runs on offer as well.

Sri Lanka went to Lunch at 73 for 3 but the session belonged to the hosts. It is in the second session that both Mathews and Karunaratne really frustrated the bowlers. Southee seemed less and less effective, while they were happy to absorb the short-ball barrage from Wagner. Things, however, could have been particularly different if not for a de Grandhomme no ball. Karunaratne had flicked a full toss straight to midwicket in the 20th over but the bowler had delivered a big no-ball. Sri Lanka had 57 on the board then and were still vulnerable.

As things panned out, the sun shone bright and so did the Sri Lankan duo from there on. New Zealand had to wait for 42 more overs for their next wicket and it was Wagner’s effort that paid off. He kept banging it in and Karunaratne eventually gloved one down the leg side to fall caught behind. Dinesh Chandimal saw off the tricky half-hour before the break while Matthews ensured there weren’t any hiccups.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka 167/4 (Dimuth Karunaratne 79; Tim Southee 3/44) vs New Zealand.

© Cricbuzz


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