Another day of dominance for SL
Sri Lanka, polished by an unbroken 68-run stand between Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, bolstered their grip on the second Test with a lead of 339 and eight wickets in hand - and two days to go. A torrential downpour at 4.10pm curtailed play on another day of local domination, the tone for which was set in the first session when New Zealand lost their last five wickets for 51 runs to spin.
Thanks to Tillakaratne Dilshan's generosity and another error by umpire Daryl Harper, New Zealand managed two wickets in the afternoon but it had minimal effect on the game which by tea had drifted almost out of their reach. Out-of-form opener Tharanga Paranavitana was watchful, mindful of the fact that this was his last innings of the series, while Dilshan made 34 before chipping Jeetan Patel to long-on. Paranavitana, progressing slowly and discreetly, looked set for his first substantial contribution but was incorrectly ruled out caught behind by Harper when he clearly missed a sweep down the leg side.
That proved to be New Zealand's last success on a slow day. Sangakkara and Jayawardene relied mainly on singles, aided by New Zealand's weary fielding effort. They built the lead sensibly, the captain handling Daniel Vettori and Patel quite masterfully. Sangakkara used his feet and stretched fully forward to negate the turn from the rough and used the width of the crease to rock back and cut when Patel pitched it short. The good mates were at ease against the harmless line of the quick bowlers and Patel, who didn't get much turn from the track. Jayawardene flicked him to leg and drove him straight for the shot of the day; Sangakkara danced out and took fours past mid-on and mid-off and an effortless six over long-on. Sangakkara brought up his second half-century of the series off 80 balls and, two calculated sweeps later, had to run off when sudden rain forced an early close.
Rain or sun, New Zealand struggled. A deficit of 257 was a huge disadvantage to start the day with, and it got worse for New Zealand when Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor fell in the first 40 minutes. Having briefly held up Sri Lanka and taken New Zealand past the follow-on mark, Vettori and Jacob Oram departed within 14 deliveries leaving the home side in complete control. Sangakkara started the day with his best spinners bowling in tandem. Muttiah Muralitharan began with an immaculate line and restricted the batsmen largely to singles. The tone was set in Rangana Herath's first over, the second of the day, when he beat Taylor and McCullum with good turn away from the bat. With three men around the bat, and the ball spinning, there were several appeals and gasps as Murali and Herath spun a web.
Herath should have had McCullum on 13 twice in one over but Paranavitana grassed a catch at silly point, his second drop of the game, and Thilan Samaraweera missed a low chance to his left at second slip. In the next over Harper turned down a convincing appeal for lbw when Taylor missed a sweep. It was McCullum who was the first to go when he edged a Murali doosra to give Jayawardene his 150th catch in Tests.
Taylor stuck to a bat-and-pad policy against Herath, who got significant turn and bounce, and tried to unsettle Murali by sweeping. Having added 11 to his overnight score in 37 deliveries, Taylor fell for 81 when Herath lured him into a prod and drew an edge. Vettori played positively for 23 in a stand of 43 with Oram before he was dislodged by Dilshan's part-time offspin, Chamara Kapugedera holding on to a good tumbling catch at short leg. Fourteen deliveries later Herath sent back Oram, whose ridiculous attempt at a reverse-sweep was taken at short leg. The end came swiftly, leaving New Zealand to rue another inept display.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo