Dananjaya, Taylor star on rain-shortened day
Akila Dananjaya took his 4th five-wicket haul, while Ross Taylor hit an unbeaten 86* as Sri Lanka and New Zealand shared honours on the rain-shortened opening day of the first Test match in Galle on Wednesday.
Dananjaya, playing his first Test match since re-modelling his bowling action, was the only threat for the Kiwi batsmen, picking up five for 57, while Taylor registered his 31st half-century as the visitors reached 203 for 5 before heavy rain brought a premature end to the day’s play at 3.42pm local time.
The off-spinner, who bowls the leg-spinner and googly as well, took all his wickets in the final 15-minutes of the first and second sessions respectively to curtail the Kiwi innings.
In the first session, he went onto end a solid 64-run opening stand, while in the post-lunch session, Dananjaya ended the ominous-looking 100-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Earlier, on a pitch which was ideal for batting, New Zealand skipper Williamson had no hesitation in batting first after winning the toss. The openers, Tom Latham and Jeet Raval had to grind it out and were watchful, giving nothing away as they were slowly built a solid opening stand.
The seamers, Lahiru Kumara and Suranga Lakmal failed to get anything out of the surface albeit Akila Dananjaya managing plenty of turn from the first hour itself after he was introduced to the attack quite early, in the 7th over of the match.
Latham was the first to go when he carelessly nicked behind in the 27th over to become Akila’s first victim. Three balls later, Sri Lanka got the prized scalp of Williamson, who turned the face of the bat too early to give a simple catch off the leading edge as Sri Lanka turned the game around in the space of four balls.Raval, who batted carefully for two hours, fell at the stroke of lunch when he didn’t read Akila’s wrong-un and found himself caught at first slip to make it 71 for 3 at the end of the opening session.
After lunch, Ross Taylor had clear intentions of unsettling the Lankan spinners from the word go. Young left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, initially found it difficult to settle on a spot as Taylor used his feet excellently to score crucial boundaries.
Sri Lanka, maybe, could have created more pressure with a few more close-in fielders but Henry Nicholls and Taylor chipped away with ease, rotating the strike and collecting the odd-boundary. The hosts probably had one chance of removing Taylor, courtesy a run-out, but the throw by Dimuth Karunaratne wasn’t on target.
None of the other bowlers looked threatening, even though they were bowling well. Dananjaya, however kept the match in the balance when he trapped Henry Nicholls plumb in front, with 12 minutes to the Tea break. He reviewed the decision but managed only to lose a review for the Kiwis as the replays showed three-reds on hawk-eye.
Just like in the first session, Dananjaya struck in the final over before the break when he caught BJ Watling plumb in front of the stumps to claim his fifth wicket as the visitors once again conceded the advantage in the final few minutes of the session.
After Tea, the game was delayed by 14 minutes due to a short shower. However, the Blackcaps made sure they didn’t concede any more wickets as Taylor and all-rounder Mitchell Santner added 24-runs before the bad weather struck.
This match also marks the start of the ICC World Test Championship for both teams.