Much-needed practice for SL

It appears from the expensive bowling figures and the fact that no fewer than eight no-balls were bowled that today provided the Sri Lankans with some much needed bowling practice ahead of their two-match Test series against New Zealand. The Otago openers won’t be complaining about this though, being able to put on an impressive and quick partnership for the first wicket and perhaps just nudging their names into the Test frame in what is currently a fairly shallow pool of opening batsmen in New Zealand.

After a rain-interrupted opening day on which just 36 overs were bowled, Sri Lanka resumed on the second morning at 141-3 with Kumar Sangakkara unbeaten on 51. He and Tillakaratne Dilshan guided the tourists through to 176 before the latter fell for 36, and Sangakkara followed seven runs later for 65. This left Sri Lanka teetering at 183-5 and threatening to be dismissed for a rather embarrassingly low total at the University Oval. But Chamara Kapugedera and Chamara Silva came to the rescue, each scoring a half-century in a 105-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Thanks to a useful cameo from Pasanna Jayawardene of 34 with two sixes and a quick fifty from Farveez Maharoof, the Sri Lankans comfortably avoided embarrassment and were eventually bowled out soon after tea for 413. The best of the bowlers was the promising Bradley Scott, whose 26 overs produced figures of 4-56 including the crucial wicket of Sangakkara.

In response Otago started brightly against an erratic Sri Lankan attack, hitting a 50-run opening partnership in the first ten overs of the innings and continuing at the same rate to be 103-0 after 20. Considering the rather small number of Test-quality specialist openers in New Zealand at the moment, Jordan Sheed and Craig Cumming chose a good time to put on such a big partnership and both register half-centuries with the national selectors no doubt watching. But disappointingly for them and their chances for further honours both fell soon afterwards, Cumming to Dilhara Fernando for 50 and Sheed to Sanath Jayasuriya for 57.

Aaron Redmond and Gareth Todd guided the home team through to stumps, the score at the end of the second day sitting at 140 for the loss of two wickets after just 32 overs.

It was a relief after yesterday’s frustrating day to have a day free of any interruptions, and it looks as though the slightly rusty Sri Lankans needed this opportunity to find form ahead of the first Test in Christchurch next week.

Sri Lanka 413
Chamara Silva 70, Chamara Kapugedera 68
Bradley Scott 4-56, Aaron Redmond 3-41

Otago 140-2
Jordan Sheed 57, Craig Cumming 50
Sanath Jayasuriya 1-6, Dilhara Fernando 1-35

Sri Lanka lead by 273 runs.

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