Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st Test, Galle, 2nd day November 18, 2012

Dead heat after hard-fought day


New Zealand 221 and 35 for 1 lead Sri Lanka 247 (Mahela 91, Mathews 79, Southee 4-46) by 9 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The Galle Test is shaping up to be a game of small margins. The seesaw battle on the second day reinforced as much, and ensured the series lead would be decided by what is effectively a one-innings shootout.

During the first hour, New Zealand made inroads so deep into Sri Lanka's line-up that they were well placed to press for a sizeable first-innings advantage. Over the next three, though, Sri Lanka's captain and his deputy restored parity and then gained the ascendency. The good times did not last as long as the hosts would have liked, and the upshot of New Zealand's resurgence post tea was a mere 26-run lead for the hosts. The visitors, however, could not erase the deficit without suffering damage.

In response to New Zealand's first-innings total of 221, Sri Lanka resumed on 9 for 1 on the second day, and their batsmen were subjected to a severe examination. Tim Southee and Trent Boult used the conditions, and a ball that was only five overs old, expertly, and made the batsmen play by moving the ball off straight lines and difficult lengths.

Southee struck in the first over, slanting a full delivery across the left-hand opener Tharanga Paranavitana, who drove at one he could have left. The ball bent back into him and hit the stumps off the inside edge. In his second over, Southee sent down a volley of outswingers and drew edges from night-watchman Suraj Randiv off successive deliveries. Brendon McCullum dropped the first at third slip, but Martin Guptill held the next at second.

At the other end, Boult beat Kumar Sangakkara by pitching around off stump from over the wicket, drawing the left-hand batsman forward, and seaming the ball away. He did this repeatedly, and eventually hit Sangakkara's edge. This time McCullum caught it in the cordon. Three wickets had fallen in four overs and Sri Lanka were 20 for 4.

Southee continued to test the right-handers. Another outswinger had Thilan Samaraweera cutting and edging past Ross Taylor at first slip, but it was the inswinger that dismissed him, after he offered no shot and was hit on the pad. Sri Lanka had lost four wickets in the first hour, and Angelo Mathews joined Mahela Jayawardene. The tide was about to turn.

The pressure was beginning to ease: the ball was older, and Southee and Boult were being eased out of the attack after their opening spells. New Zealand's support cast wasn't as threatening.

Doug Bracewell, the first-change seamer, immediately offered Jayawardene a short and wide ball that was cut for four, and after he changed ends, Mathews drove straight and through cover as well. Bracewell's day did not get better and he went for 67 in 16 wicketless overs. Jeetan Patel was brought on just before the lunch break and Jayawardene attacked him, skipping out of his crease and lofting over the midwicket boundary. Sri Lanka ended the first session on 105 for 5.

The second session was emphatically theirs - 85 runs and no wicket. There was almost no seam or swing movement in the afternoon and the batsmen progressed to their half-centuries. Jayawardene reached his off 76 balls, while Mathews slogged Patel for six and flicked Bracewell for four to get there off 70 deliveries. The 100-run stand came at more than four runs per over. So at ease was Mathews that he felt confident enough to reverse-swat Patel to the point boundary and eventually outscored his captain. At tea, the partnership was worth 140 and Sri Lanka were trailing by only 31.

Sri Lanka had moved within 15 runs of drawing level with New Zealand when James Franklin broke through, drawing an edge from Mathews to earn his first Test wicket since 2009. The hosts also lost Prasanna Jayawardene before the lead was taken and Mahela eventually took his team ahead via a reverse-swept boundary off Patel.

Patel, however, denied Mahela a hundred, when an attempted sweep resulted in the ball bobbing up off the glove and wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk diving forward to take a sharp catch. Mahela walked before the umpire had revealed his decision. Sri Lanka were eventually dismissed for 247 and New Zealand were left with 12 overs to face in the fading light, 26 runs in arrears.

McCullum did not survive; he heaved at a turning short ball from Rangana Herath and was caught on the move by Nuwan Kulasekara at deep midwicket. It was a loss New Zealand could have avoided. Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill wiped out the remainder of the deficit and took their team nine runs ahead before stumps.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Amila on November 19, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    Guys this game is not a clash of the titans. #6 SL vs #8 NZ. Once SL were at top 2 or 3 in the table with a balanced team. Now with out Murali and Vass they should rebuild bowling department. Winning against any team is important to climb the ladder back. SL will win. Cheers.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    Herath is playing a big role in Sl team after the retirement of Murali

  • Corey on November 19, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Guptill, McCullum either desperately need to sort out their test match batting game or replace them, it is not good enough. Franklin and Van Wyk just flat out shouldnt be in the team. I am a proud Blackcaps fan and this is unbearable to watch the same thing over and over again

  • Ajith on November 19, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    good fight back by Mahela and Angelo who still could not convert their runs to hundreds. It's a pity that SL selectors do not persist with experienced Tharanga or in form chandimal as an opener especially when Dilshan is out through injury instead of throwing a newcomer to the wolves.The match itself might not last the 5 days as experienced in the past taking the current situation into account.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    its a shame Bredan did what he did but he is still a good fielder and asset to NZ, his average in this test is not bad at 40~ but he really needed to kick on to make 100. Ross Taylor has been dissapointing recently to say the least with the exception of his recent ODI 100 and will need to make a big score.. You get the feeling that the team that has a batsman making triple figures is going to be the team that wins it.

  • sandeep on November 19, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Sri Lanka will win the match.

  • Brett on November 19, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    I agree - Chandimal or Thuranga would be better options at opener than these 2 as they have demonstrated quality at international level. Guptill and Taylor will need big scores though if the Kiwis are to have a chance as the rest of the batting isn't really top quality.

  • Richard on November 19, 2012, 1:32 GMT

    Sounds like a good game in progress here.

  • Rishi on November 19, 2012, 0:51 GMT

    I am loving the Test cricket. First the BD vs WI game turned out a very well fought contest. Now this match between NZ vs SL is turning out to be very exciting. @mateyman; I totally agree with your view about RUNFEST. @janoodot: You are right about strange selection policy by SL board. Good luck to SL and NZ both.

  • Jon on November 19, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    As a New Zealander, its great to see our seam attack keeping us in the game again. But its time for the top order to earn their money and set a defendable target -- we're going to need 300-350 to put SL under pressure which means batting for at least 4 sessions. McCullum needs to bat at 6 (and keep wickets) as he's clearly NOT an opener.

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