New Zealand took a decisive step towards sealing a 2-0 series win after a dominant display with the ball on the third day of the Wellington Test.
Having amassed 580 runs over the first two days of the Test, the hosts bowled Sri Lanka out for 164 before enforcing the follow on and taking two second innings wickets. At Stumps, with six sessions still to play in the game, the visitors were still 303 runs away from making New Zealand bat again.
The pitch at the Basin Reserve continued to remain good for batting although off-spinner Michael Bracewell extracted more from the surface than his Sri Lankan counterparts had managed over the first two days. It was the fast bowlers that proved to be the difference between the two sides. While Sri Lanka were profligate through the second day, conceding runs on both sides of the wicket, the pair of Tim Southee and Matt Henry were consistent with their five-metre lengths and also generated appreciable movement in the air and off the pitch.
The captain earned the first breakthrough of the morning when he struck with his seventh ball of the day to dismiss Prabath Jayasuriya. The Sri Lankan night watcher was opened up as he looked to defend a length ball from the crease as it curved away from him. Henry then earned the big wicket of Angelo Mathews. The veteran batter, coming from a fine hundred in Christchurch, found himself pushing at a delivery well outside the off-stump and feathered a catch to ‘keeper Tom Blundell. Sri Lanka, who had begun the day at 26/2 were quickly reduced to 34/4 and it was up to the old heads of Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal to lift them once more.
And lift they did. After a string of four maidens, Karunaratne cashed in on a full ball from Henry and cover-drove the seamer for a boundary. He followed that up with a pair of fours off Doug Bracewell although the first of them was a top-edged pull that sailed over the ‘keeper’s head. The Sri Lankan captain though was excellent with his drives down the ground and picked up another four and a three off Doug Bracewell’s propensity to bowl the fuller length.
Southee returned for another burst and immediately posed more questions of the batters but the morning juice from the surface appeared to have worn off. Karunaratne flicked for a boundary before another mis-timed pull brought him a half-century. The Sri Lankan captain was adjudged out caught-behind off a Doug Bracewell delivery but had the decision overturned with DRS. At the other end, Chandimal’s innings gained momentum with a crunched lofted drive off Blair Tickner and a paddle-swept four off Michael Bracewell. The off-spinner though found sharp turn and bounce near the end of the session, two factors that proved to be significant when play resumed in the second session.
Sri Lanka imploded once the 80-run stand ended in the fourth ball after Lunch. Chandimal charged out of his crease in his attempts to transfer the pressure back on the off-spinner but was beaten by the dip and the turn and was dismissed for 37 with Blundell effecting a smart stumping.
Sri Lanka never recovered from that early jolt. Dhananjaya de Silva attempted a big slog sweep off his first delivery and didn’t last much longer thereafter, once again trying to step out to Michael Bracewell and finding himself beaten in the air by the dip only to push tamely to short mid-wicket. Nishan Madushka then hit three boundaries in his innings of 19 before he was undone by a sharp Matt Henry delivery that reared up on him to find the edge and loop away to third slip for a simple catch. Kasun Rajitha then ran himself out attempting a non-existent single after driving to mid-on.
The flurry of wickets meant, the otherwise excellent Karunaratne now sought big hits to get to his century. He perished in this attempt after getting too close to a Michael Bracewell delivery and was therefore unable to get distance on a lofted shot over long-off. He was dismissed for a fine 89. Blair Tickner got himself a wicket by dismissing last man Asitha Fernando. Sri Lanka had lost their final six wickets for 55 runs to be bowled out while still being 416 runs in the arrears. The hosts had no qualms in asking their opponents to take strike once more.
It could have gotten worse for the visitors with over 40 overs still to come in the day’s place. The signs were ominous when Oshada Fernando fell early into the final session, flicking a length ball from Doug Bracewell straight to mid-wicket. It was followed by Sri Lanka’s best period of the day overseen by the pair of Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis. Both batters shied away from taking any unnecessary risk and simply batted normally on what was still a good pitch to bat on. After a 71-run stand during which he completed his second half-century of the Test, Karunaratne attempted an ungainly pull off Southee and miscued it to deep square leg where Devon Conway settled under the swirling ball. Mendis got to a fifty of his own and along with Mathews saw off the remaining 11 overs in the day’s play. Sri Lanka will need the talented batter to bat big and for as long as possible to entertain any thoughts of saving this Test.
|Tom Latham||c Prabath Jayasuriya b Kasun Rajitha||21||73||0||0||28.77|
|Devon Conway||c & b Dhananjaya de Silva||78||108||13||0||72.22|
|Kane Williamson||c b Prabath Jayasuriya||215||296||23||2||72.64|
|Henry Nicholls||not out||200||240||15||4||83.33|
|Daryl Mitchell||c & b Kasun Rajitha||17||12||1||1||141.67|
|Tom Blundell||not out||17||17||0||0||100.00|
|Extras||32 (b 2 , lb 17 , nb 8, w 5, pen 0)|
|Total||580/4 (123 Overs, RR: 4.72)|
|Dhananjaya de Silva||19||3||75||1||3.95|
|Oshada Fernando||c Tom Blundell b Matt Henry||6||32||0||0||18.75|
|Dimuth Karunaratne||c Tom Latham b Michael Bracewell||89||188||9||0||47.34|
|Kusal Mendis||c Devon Conway b Doug Bracewell||0||10||0||0||0.00|
|Prabath Jayasuriya||c Daryl Mitchell b Tim Southee||4||17||1||0||23.53|
|Angelo Mathews||c Tom Blundell b Matt Henry||1||10||0||0||10.00|
|Dinesh Chandimal||st Tom Blundell b Michael Bracewell||37||92||4||0||40.22|
|Dhananjaya de Silva||c Tim Southee b Michael Bracewell||0||6||0||0||0.00|
|Nishan Madushka||c Michael Bracewell b Matt Henry||19||31||3||0||61.29|
|Kasun Rajitha||run out (Tom Latham)||0||9||0||0||0.00|
|Lahiru Kumara||not out||1||4||0||0||25.00|
|Asitha Fernando||c Kane Williamson b Blair Tickner||0||3||0||0||0.00|
|Extras||7 (b 4 , lb 1 , nb 1, w 1, pen 0)|
|Total||164/10 (66.5 Overs, RR: 2.45)|
|Oshada Fernando||c WA Young b Doug Bracewell||5||36||0||0||13.89|
|Dimuth Karunaratne||c Devon Conway b Tim Southee||51||83||4||0||61.45|
|Kusal Mendis||c Kane Williamson b Matt Henry||50||106||8||0||47.17|
|Angelo Mathews||c Michael Bracewell b Blair Tickner||2||44||0||0||4.55|
|Dinesh Chandimal||c Doug Bracewell b Blair Tickner||62||92||8||0||67.39|
|Dhananjaya de Silva||c Henry Nicholls b Michael Bracewell||98||185||12||1||52.97|
|Nishan Madushka||c Tim Southee b Blair Tickner||39||93||4||1||41.94|
|Kasun Rajitha||c Kane Williamson b Tim Southee||20||110||1||0||18.18|
|Prabath Jayasuriya||c Blair Tickner b Michael Bracewell||2||45||0||0||4.44|
|Lahiru Kumara||c Michael Bracewell b Tim Southee||7||45||1||0||15.56|
|Asitha Fernando||not out||0||15||0||0||0.00|
|Extras||22 (b 0 , lb 6 , nb 2, w 14, pen 0)|
|Total||358/10 (142 Overs, RR: 2.52)|