Cachopa, Kusal set up close final day
Sri Lanka A 252 (Silva 103, Sodhi 3-34) and 135 for 3 (Kusal 62*, Bracewell 2-50) lead New Zealand A 299 (Cachopa 104, Ronchi 47, Dilruwan 6-87) by 88 runs
An explosive surge from Kusal Perera gave Sri Lanka A a slender advantage against New Zealand A on day three in Pallekele after Carl Cachopa's 104 had earlier taken the visitors to 299 for 9, earning them a 47-run lead. However, Kusal's brisk fifty means that the hosts also stand a chance of winning the match on the final day as Sri Lanka lead by 88 runs at stumps, with seven wickets in hand.
Cachopa, who resumed his innings at 14 in the morning, added 49 and 110 for the first and second wicket with Anton Devicich and Daryl Mitchell respectively, and smashed a total of 10 fours and three sixes in his innings.
At 175 for 1, New Zealand looked well set and to be heading towards a comfortable score, but the quick departures of Cachopa and Mitchell, followed by a lower-order collapse meant that they would not bat the hosts out of the game. Dilruwan Perera removed Luke Ronchi and Todd Astle in consecutive overs, before Chaturanga de Silva took two of his own. The slide had accounted for five wickets for 41 runs, when the captain Devcich declared the innings. Dilruwan finished with 6 for 87, while de Silva took 3 for 60, as all nine New Zealand batsmen fell to spin.
Dimuth Karunaratne began Sri Lanka's second innings briskly, making 11 from his first six balls, but although he was then caught behind, his opening partner Kusal continued to maintain the quick scoring rate. His 62 runs came from just 45 balls, and included 10 fours. Kusal has had a few lean months in both international and domestic cricket, and this innings could be the catalyst to his return to form.
First innings centurion Kaushal Silva and captain Dinesh Chandimal fell cheaply, but Kusal found support from Kithuruwan Vithanage, who made an unbeaten 30. Sri Lanka A had hit 135 for 3 in 19 overs, and if they can maintain that tempo on day four, the hosts may hope to push the lead to beyond 200 in the first session to set up a tough chase for the visitors. New Zealand A,on the other hand, will hope to effect a collapse, if they are to achieve an unassailable position in the two-match series.