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Sri Lanka in fight to survive against New Zealand

CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand had the scent of victory after only the second day of the first Test against Sri Lanka Saturday after a scintillating bowling spell forced the tourists to follow on 303 runs in arrears.

After New Zealand posted 441 in their first innings at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, a four-pronged pace attack led by Trent Boult dismissed Sri Lanka for 138 inside 43 overs.

“That first innings was something special. It just seemed to happen against a quality side so it was brilliant,” New Zealand’s chief destroyer Boult said after returning figures of three for 25 off 11 overs.

Sri Lanka made a more solid start to their second innings, reaching 84 without loss at stumps, but with three days remaining they were still 219 runs in arrears and Boult believed the signs were good for New Zealand.

“It’s a great opportunity to win a Test match in New Zealand,” the left-arm quick said.

He described the pitch as “inconsistent” with the amount of assistance it gave but said if the New Zealand bowlers kept the pressure on “then I think we’re going to be successful”.

New Zealand had resumed the second day at 429-7 and lost their last three wickets for a cheap 12 runs in 32 balls as their innings folded for 441.

The quick end signalled that the bowlers had found how to exploit the green-tinged surface and 13 wickets fell in two sessions after the batsmen led by New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum’s 195 had dominated the first day.

In a pre-lunch onslaught Boult ripped through Sri Lanka’s top order starting with the removal of Dimuth Karunaratne for nought with his fourth delivery to bring up his 100th Test dismissal.

He followed with the wickets of Kaushal Silva for four and Sri Lanka dangerman Kumar Sangakarra for six.

Sangakkara was six runs short of becoming only the fifth player to reach 12,000 Test runs when he was beaten by a late swinging Boult delivery that caught an outside edge and was snapped up by Tim Southee at third slip.

Southee split the webbing between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand securing the catch and required five stitches.

But the injury did not affect his right-arm deliveries and after a tight but fruitless opening spell he joined the action after lunch, claiming Lahiru Thirimanne (24) and Niroshan Dickwella (two) in the space of four balls.

Neil Wagner chimed in with the wickets of Prasanna Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews and Tharindu Kaushal before Jimmy Neesham mopped up the tail with the wickets of Dhammika Prasad and Suranga Lakmal.

Amid the carnage, only Mathews carried the fight to New Zealand as he raced from 40 to his 19th half-century with a four and six off successive deliveries from Wagner.

But his belligerence was to prove his downfall when he charged at Wagner a third time and skied a top edge to Tom Latham at third man.

In addition to Boult’s impressive figures, Wagner took three for 60, Southee two for 17 and Neesham two for 28.

In their second innings Karunaratne was not out 49 at stumps with Silva on 33, with Karunaratne receiving a life when he was dropped on 10 by substitute Cole McConchie off Boult’s bowling.

New Zealand’s first innings folded tamely with only Mark Craig, not out 12, offering token resistance as Mathews and Lakmal removed Southee and Boult without scoring.

Lakmal also removed Wagner for four to finish with three for 90 while the more economical Mathews took three for 39. (AFP)

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