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
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