Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st Test, Galle, 4th day

Depleted New Zealand battle for survival

The Report by Dileep Premachandran

August 21, 2009

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New Zealand 30 for 1 (Guptill 17*) and 299 (McIntosh 69, Murali 4-73, Thushara 4-81) need another 383 runs to beat Sri Lanka 452 and 259 for 4 dec (Dilshan 123*, Sangakkara 46*)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Tillakaratne Dilshan kisses his helmet on getting to his half-century, Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st Test, Galle, 1st day, August 18, 2009
It was butchery from Tillakaratne Dilshan yet again, only this time he ensured he crossed three figures © AFP

There was no case of second-time-unlucky for Tillakaratne Dilshan, and a blazing century pushed a tummy-bug-hit New Zealand to the brink as the Galle Test entered its climactic phase. Having taken a 153-run lead, with Muttiah Muralitharan taking his 100th wicket in Galle, Sri Lanka piled on the misery either side of lunch, with stroke-filled cameos from Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera buttressing Dilshan's stunning effort. By tea, when the declaration came, the lead was 412 and with several batsmen ill, New Zealand's chances of survival were very much dependent on the weather.

But though it rained for nearly an hour after tea, their task was made harder as soon as play resumed, with Daniel Flynn - promoted to open as Tim McIntosh was indisposed - brilliantly caught an inch off the ground by Mahela. Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor, batting at No.3 for the first time, defended stoutly to prevent further damage, before bad light took the players off for the final time.

Sri Lanka had amassed 183 in the second session, and the tone was set in the very first over after the interval, as Sangakkara took three fours off Jacob Oram. At the other end, Dilshan eased to 50 from just 35 balls and greeted Jeetan Patel with a paddle sweep for four. To worsen Patel's mood, Reece Young, the substitute wicketkeeper, couldn't hold on when Dilshan opened the face and tried to run one down to third man. He was on 62 at the time, and New Zealand had plenty of time to reflect on the lapse.

With Sangakkara timing the ball so beautifully, the century partnership took just 113 balls, and it required a massive stroke of luck for New Zealand to break through. Dilshan drove one hard and low, and it just brushed Daniel Vettori's fingers before crashing into the stumps with Sangakkara a few inches short of his ground.

It was merely temporary respite though. Mahela announced himself with a meaty mow over square leg, and as the batsmen continued to pick the gaps with effortless ease, Vettori was forced into adopting a defensive line for both himself and Patel - spearing the ball into the leg-stump rough. Mahela continued to sweep, but Dilshan's scoring did stall as he did little more than pad the ball away.

Once Dilshan dusted off the sweep and started to attack, New Zealand ran out of options. Patel did finally get a wicket, as Mahela popped up a return catch, but Samaraweera buried any thoughts of celebration with two mighty leg-side swipes for six. He fell trying to repeat the feat against Vettori, and the stage was then set for Dilshan to get the hundred which eluded him in the first innings.

A single to mid-off got him there, and a fusillade of strokes followed. Prasanna Jayawardene chipped in with cuts behind point, heaves over cover and the odd edge, but it was Dilshan who ran the show, peppering the boundaries as the 50 partnership came up in just 41 balls. By then, most of the New Zealanders were looking as sick as Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder, both of whom had been taken ill.

It hadn't taken Sri Lanka's bowlers long to wrap up New Zealand's first innings. Murali had Iain O'Brien caught behind before Thilan Thushara came back to take his fourth wicket of the innings, bowling Vettori off the inside edge. Vettori's had been a desperate shot, but with the hapless Chris Martin at the other end, he really had no option but to go for the single off the last ball of the over.

It was desperation of another kind when Dilshan, who had clattered 92 from 72 balls in the first innings, arrived at the crease. Once again, New Zealand had no answer to his aggression, and O'Brien appeared stunned when he was hooked for six and then flayed for four through cover at the start of the innings.

Tharanga Paranavitana went, edging to slip, but with Sangakkara caressing gorgeous strokes through the covers, Dilshan was once again given the license to flirt with the boundaries of Test-match batting. Both O'Brien and Martin suffered as the ball was cut, square-driven and pulled ruthlessly each time it was even fractionally off length. The deluge that came after tea was nothing compared to what had gone before.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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