New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Dunedin, 2nd day December 11, 2015

NZ break through Karunaratne-Chandimal resistance


Sri Lanka 197 for 4 (Karunaratne 84, Chandimal 83*) trail New Zealand 431 (Guptill 156, Williamson 88, McCullum 75, Pradeep 4-112) by 234 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

BJ Watling claimed his 100th dismissal and was part of all four wickets New Zealand took © AFP

Where runs had flowed and wickets tumbled as a result of New Zealand's assertive batting approach on the first day, the cricket was played at a slower pace on the second at University Oval, but was no less intense. The change in tempo was brought about by a battle of patience between New Zealand's attack, which moved the ball in both directions from accurate lines and lengths, and two Sri Lankan top-order batsmen determined to cut out risk. At stumps, Brendom McCullum's team had edged ahead on the day, consolidating their advantage in the match.

Sri Lanka lost Kusal Mendis, playing his second Test, and the debutant Udara Jayasundera early to inexperience in alien conditions, but their relatively older hands Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal - both playing their 24th Tests - had kept New Zealand wicketless in the second session. Their partnership spanned 48.5 overs but produced only 122 runs, because for large swathes of time they were given extremely few hittable balls. Sri Lanka had only 17 fours in the day - New Zealand had that many in their first 23 overs - and though Chandimal finished unbeaten on 83, the fall of Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews in the final session left the lower order with a lot to do.

That Karunaratne got as far as 84 was because of a little luck and a lot of skill in the morning. In the first over of the innings, he left his bat raised while ducking a bouncer from Trent Boult, the ball pinging off the periscope over the wicketkeeper's head. In the third, he edged consecutive outswingers but crucially played with soft hands so the catches did not carry to first slip.

Mendis, however, did not use soft hands and a delivery from Boult slanted away from the right-hander and took the edge through to BJ Watling, who collected his 100th dismissal and the first of four catches in the innings.

Tim Southee tested Karunaratne with two consecutive yorkers that hooped into the left-hander and homed in on his boot. Karunaratne inside-edged the first on to his pad, and blocked out the second confidently. Jayasundera also got a similar delivery as his first ball in Test cricket and survived.

Jayasundera scored his first run by tucking Boult off his pads, but did not make another. He had watched Karunaratne slash a wide ball from Neil Wagner over the slips for four, but when he reached out to cut, he only managed a toe end to Watling. Boult's first spell read 6-2-16-1 and Southee's 5-1-6-0. That pressure was maintained by Doug Bracewell, who conceded only five runs in four overs before lunch.

The scoring stayed slow after the break, the difference being the growing assuredness of Sri Lanka's batsmen. Runs came via compact punches, dabs and crisp flicks off the pads - nothing extravagant. Karunaratne played the pull confidently, getting on top of the bounce and rolling his wrists to keep the ball down. With the ball not doing much for the seamers, McCullum brought on Mitchell Santner in the 30th over and the left-arm spinner was economical as well, conceding only 12 runs in his first ten overs. Sri Lanka made only 24 runs in the first hour after lunch.

After 80 deliveries of restraint, Chandimal attacked, charging Santner and aiming a heave down the ground. The outside edge flew over slip. Two balls later he cut Santner for his first boundary. Karunaratne began to score more freely towards tea, thumping consecutive half-volleys from Wagner to the long-on and straight boundaries, and glancing a rare poor ball from Bracewell off his pads as well. The slight loosening of New Zealand's purse strings was reward for diligent batting.

Wagner was the weak link in the New Zealand attack, and in the first hour of the final session his economy was touching five an over while the innings run rate was around two. He bowled too full and was driven often by Karunaratne and Chandimal through the off side and down the ground. With his seamers ineffective despite the ball showing a tendency to reverse - Boult's pace was down between 125-130kph - McCullum gave it to Santner.

The wicket came against the run of play, when Karunaratne went back to cut a rather cut-able ball but edged it to Watling. Sri Lanka were still trailing by 280 but their captain took only two runs off that deficit: Angelo Mathews was caught down the leg side off Southee, the not-out decision on the field overturned by the faintest of Hot-Spots.

Chandimal had got to his 50 off 143 deliveries with three boundaries, but he was less conservative in the final session, striking six more fours after raising his half-century. For company, he had the last specialist batsman Kithuruwan Vithanage, whose hard but airborne drive had been put down by Kane Williamson at short cover.

Sri Lanka were 234 runs behind with six wickets in hand at the end of the day, and they will have to face the danger of a ball that is only an over old on the third morning.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on December 12, 2015, 4:09 GMT

    sri Lanka missing prasad badly. must admit sri Lanka doing better than expected. great work from chandimal and karunaratne

  • Aim on December 11, 2015, 23:34 GMT

    Thoroughly impressed by the Sri Lankan defiance. Very inexperienced batting order is admirably resisting against a quality attack in tough, cloudy and very cold conditions. Still NZ are overwhelming favorites but Sri Lanka have a contest out of the first test.

  • rakibul on December 11, 2015, 23:17 GMT

    @Rachit Agrawal.... Now check with all the tests, odis and tests combined to see who is the boss. SL got is the best touring team from sc.

  • Rahul on December 11, 2015, 23:15 GMT

    Chandimal and Karunaratne played well. Though both should have scored big.

  • Craig on December 11, 2015, 23:00 GMT

    Pity Chandimal missed his ton. Matthews was not out, that white mark on hot spot could have come from anywhere...!!

  • sriyantha on December 11, 2015, 22:39 GMT

    Two freebies on the leg-side to add 8 runs to his 14... and there goes the superhero Kithruwan Vithange edging the ball to keep-up his marvelous record of 92 runs @ 11 Av from his past 8 Tests innings to 114 @ 12 Av from 9 Test innings. SL Selectors take note of his justification please.... surely more of it to come for him to secure his place, for the next decade with your blessings :))

    On the other hand, 30 year old Milinda's long experience (even limited to domestic matches) demonstrates how to survive while scoring runs.

  • Yasein on December 11, 2015, 22:10 GMT

    Absolute peach to ger rid of chandimal. Into the tail now. Lets wrap this innings up quick :)

  • sriyantha on December 11, 2015, 22:05 GMT

    Two freebies on the leg-side to add 8 runs to his 14... and there goes the superhero Kithruwan Vithange edging the ball to keep-up his marvelous record of 92 runs @ 11 Av from his past 8 Tests innings to 114 @ 12 Av from 9 Test innings. SL Selectors take note of his justification please.... more to come for him to secure his place for the next decade with your blessings :))

  • Brian on December 11, 2015, 21:54 GMT

    Well done to NZ on their continued good form. In Aus, it would have been nice to see a 6 test series against the kiwis rather than what we're watching at the moment. I reckon NZ are only 1 or 2 players shy of being a really top team for the next few years.

  • Raghu on December 11, 2015, 19:43 GMT

    In 81 overs, other teams would have posted lets say 280 or so against this attack. NZ still would have taken 4 wickets. so this attack isn't really that great. anyway it hasn't been since the departure of Bond. This match will be a draw which is almost like a win for SL.

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