New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Hamilton, 2nd day December 19, 2015

SL close in on lead after Chameera's five

151

New Zealand 232 for 9 (Guptill 50, Chameera 5-47) trail Sri Lanka 292 (Mathews 77, Siriwardana 62, Southee 3-63) by 60 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Flying high: Dushmantha Chameera was unstoppable in a spell of 6-3-4-3 © Getty Images

Test cricket's thrill escalates with a fast bowler on the prowl and Dushmantha Chameera had his best day in the jungle against New Zealand in Hamilton. His maiden five-for tore through their batting line-up and all that was left was the final wicket pair, staring at a deficit of 60 runs.

It was his spell right after lunch that became the fulcrum on which the match spun. Sri Lanka had been in slumber for much of the first session. They took 13.1 overs for 28 runs, and lost three wickets to be bowled out for 292, and then spent the rest of the morning like a lightweight boxer thrown in a heavyweight fight - working within limitations and hoping for a mistake. After lunch, however, Sri Lanka did that thing all underdogs try and do. They punched and punched and punched, and were close to knocking their opponent out.

New Zealand lost five wickets for 72 runs in the second session and that slide began once Angelo Mathews woke up to the fact that he had the fastest bowler in the match. Chameera bounced Tom Latham out in minutes. Would the same tactic work against the No. 2-ranked batsman in the world? Yes, Kane Williamson was caught at deep square leg for 1. Would it work against a world-record holder? Ross Taylor, who had struck 290 against Australia last month, bagged a duck. Chameera, with three Tests' experience behind him, had hustled New Zealand's in-form batsmen back into the dressing room and 81 for 0 became 89 for 4.

BJ Watling and Mitchell Santner did their best to fight, keeping each other company for 19 overs and scoring 40 runs. Both batsmen managed the short ball better, though Sri Lanka helped them by underusing their main threat. They faced only 10 deliveries from Chameera, who was put on ice for 21 overs after tea in addition to a 20-over wait to get his first ball of the match.

Perhaps it was a case of injury management. Sri Lanka's quicks have a history of breaking down, and it may have weighed on Mathews' mind. Chameera is a case study himself - after making just as startling an impression on Test debut in July, he spent the next few weeks out with a side strain.

That was the last thing on anyone's mind when he bowled seven overs at a stretch before tea, getting the ball around the batsman's ear, and rarely missed his mark. His fastest delivery of 146 kph came in the sixth over of the spell.

By the time Chameera was done, McCullum may well have been nursing a bruised hand considering all the fending he had to do. Taylor and Williamson may be nursing bruised egos, and Latham would have suffered the most pain watching it all from the dressing room because it was his wicket that derailed the innings. He had surveyed the change in field - short leg and leg slip installed close, deep square leg and long leg posted back - and yet the first short ball he got, he tucked it to Dimuth Karunaratne's hands at leg slip.

Martin Guptill had just completed a pretty fifty, but next ball he was caught at slip trying to slog Rangana Herath for a six, when long-on was back.

The short-ball attack was continued by Nuwan Pradeep who got McCullum to top edge a hook to the boundary rider at fine leg, but he had overstepped by an inch. Sri Lanka looked to their senior to be their savior again, and Herath had McCullum inside edging to silly point seven balls after his reprieve. Kusal Mendis was the man under the lid, staying low and reaching to his right to claim a sharp catch minutes before tea.

Until then the day had gone New Zealand's way. There were only three Sri Lanka wickets standing when play began half an hour early and the slips were lined up like a shooting gallery, only these targets wanted to be hit. In humid conditions and with the seamers deciding to plant six balls on the same spot, business was booming. Their biggest scalp came within the first half hour.

Latham moved to his right to hold on to a low catch and Mathews, who had passed 4000 Test runs, was walking back having added only 14 to his overnight 63. Mathews felt like he had to play Southee's angle into him from wide of the crease, and though he did so with soft hands, New Zealand's cordon had moved up since the first day when one catch fell short of Taylor at first slip.

Another reminder of the first day occurred when a Neil Wagner bouncer struck Suranga Lakmal's right shoulder and then dropped onto the base of middle stump. Again the bails did not fall, but it didn't cost New Zealand much. Wagner tried the short ball again and Lakmal fended a catch to gully. Bracewell, as he had done in Dunedin, picked up the last wicket of the Sri Lanka innings.

New Zealand's openers began steadily in their 81-run stand. With the sun beating down on a glorious day in Hamilton, the sideways movement was diminished. Guptill and Latham spent the first nine overs working that out - 19 runs, with only three fours. Having sussed the conditions, the openers took 42 runs off the next 11 overs, with nine fours and two sixes.

The bounce and pace in the pitch, however, was outstanding. So Sri Lanka simply set their tearaway loose.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • safry on December 20, 2015, 0:01 GMT

    what a poor decision by third umpire, nothing on hot spot or snicko. this could change the whole complexity of the match, drs only work when it used by right people, icc need to educate these umpires.

  • Yasein on December 19, 2015, 23:30 GMT

    Looks like the lankans are about to repeat NZs first innings.

  • Jimmy on December 19, 2015, 23:29 GMT

    Although I am Sri Lankan, I want black caps to win. But good luck both teams.

  • Jan on December 19, 2015, 23:18 GMT

    looks like 3rd umpire has screwed up again by giving out the sri lankan 2nd wicket . is DRS serving it's purpose?

  • Sean Webber on December 19, 2015, 23:07 GMT

    I think mccullim should open the batting and swap with guptill. Srilanka will most likely set a score around 400. If he pulls out a mccullum special then its game in and if not, the rest can bat for the draw.

  • AllIndia on December 19, 2015, 22:38 GMT

    Looks like SL will win this one. Good job, my neighbors to the south of Chennai.

  •   Anurag Agarwal on December 19, 2015, 22:30 GMT

    So happy to see a sub continent team doing so well in NZ conditions.. Well Aus, NZ, SA, Eng cannot learn to bat on sub-continent pitches but we have always accepted the challenge to bat on green tops. Now soon the results will also show. Go SL go. As an Indian it is heartening to see SL do well. But nothing against NZ as they are still my most loved team.

  • S on December 19, 2015, 22:16 GMT

    From SL's performance from the start of day2, it is obvious that the NZ have lost its 'fear factor' with bat and ball. Before the start of 2T, the indication was that this wicket would be seamer friendly and would make vertually impossible for Sri Lanka to deal with. Suprise suprise, the Sri Lankans are much comfortable in taking the fight back to the home team. Short ball seems to be working against the home team! Ironic in my eyes....

  • David on December 19, 2015, 22:01 GMT

    Sri Lanka will win this one if they can get 350 total, playing Herath on the 4th and 5th day will be difficult. Nevertheless, the test match is set up nicely.

  • Dwayne on December 19, 2015, 21:11 GMT

    This game is nicely poised. I hope there is a result and I also hope it is close. I'm sick and tired of seeing innings defeats and losses by 200 runs or more. This test seems like it will be one of the good ones.

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