NZ Dominate Opening Day

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene was left with a lot to think about as his team got off to almost as bad a start to a test series as is possible – the fact that his team were bowled out before tea, the fact that they only took two New Zealand wickets in the final session and as the runs flowed increasingly freely in the latter stages, and what he must have been thinking about most of all was, in what must feel like the distant past, his decision after winning the toss.

The coin landing on heads was where Sri Lanka’s luck for the day came to an end. In a decision many questioned considering the overcast conditions and grassy pitch, Jayawardene decided to bat first and was immediately left regretting his decision as his own wicket was the third to fall with the score on just 37. The bowler responsible was the ominous sight that is a fully fit Shane Bond, taking all three wickets in the morning session and threatening on countless other occasions. Things briefly looked more promising as the sun came out and Upul Tharanga and promising middle-order batsman Chamara Kapugedera put on 50 for the fourth wicket, with both starting to look almost comfortable at the wicket against what was a magnificent bowling display by New Zealand’s four pace bowlers. They batted through to 77-3 at lunch and it looked as though they had made up for their disastrous start.

But after lunch New Zealand regained the ascendency, James Franklin taking three quick wickets after the break including the crucial ones of Tharanga for 33 and Kapugedera for 37. Then the other two bowlers, Chris Martin and Jacob Oram, joined in after bowling tremendously in the morning session without taking any wickets. Oram took the wickets of Chaminda Vaas and Farveez Maharoof, while Martin removed Prasanna Jayawardene and Muttiah Muralitharan. The former, well caught by Jamie How in the slip cordon, was Martin’s 100th test wicket, and the latter came after an entertaining innings by the number 11 batsman of 14 from just nine balls. His fall brought the end to the innings with the score at just 154, a disappointing batting effort against a superb bowling and fielding effort by the New Zealanders, with the only exception being two dropped catches by Bond during Murali’s spectacular but brief cameo.

The new opening combination for New Zealand walked out to the middle after the tea break and immediately proved unsuccessful as it briefly looked like Sri Lanka would make up for their disappointing effort with the bat. Lasith Malinga produced a stunning delivery in the second over of the innings to Jamie How, one so fast and from such an awkward delivery position that he may not have seen it all, to remove him LBW without scoring and leave the score at 3-1. What followed was several minutes of nervous and watchful batting by Craig Cumming and the recalled Mathew Sinclair before both became more settled at the crease and lifted the scoring rate. The two ran well between the wickets and played several excellent shots to the boundary in their 70-run stand before Mathew Sinclair was very well caught late in the day by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene for 36 with the score at 73-2.

Stephen Fleming came out to join Cumming and they together safely negotiated the remainder of the day’s play before light brought a slightly early end to the day’s proceedings and with it Sri Lanka’s suffering. The visitors have been left with a major challenge on their hands to get themselves back into the contest and avoid conceding a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.

Sri Lanka 154
Chamara Kapugedera 37, Upul Tharanga 33
James Franklin 3-30, Shane Bond 3-43

New Zealand 85-2
Craig Cumming 37 no, Mathew Sinclair 36
Lasith Malinga 1-14, Chaminda Vaas 1-34

Sri Lanka lead by 69 runs.

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