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Sri Lanka on course for massive win!

Rex Clementine reporting from Wellington

Inspired bowling by paceman Lasith Malinga and excellent support by Muralitharan helped Sri Lanka to bowl out New Zealand for 130 and gain a vital 138 run first innings lead in the second and final Test Match here at the Basin Reserve in Wellington yesterday.

Despite the poor batting performance in the first innings, Sri Lanka managed to get a healthy lead and consolidated their position further as rookie Chamara Silva hit an unbeaten 79 as the tourists ended the day on 225 for five. Sri Lanka have an overall lead of 363 with five wickets in hand.

Malinga finished with five for 68, his best bowling figures and undoubtedly one of the best efforts by a Sri Lankan seamer in a Test. The speedster regularly touched 145kmph mark and was virtually unplayable. Those New Zealanders who defied him, at least briefly, were left with a few bruises. Brendon McCullum was taken to the hospital to have precautionary X-ray after he got hit in the hand and didn’t take the field in Sri Lanka’s second innings.

The 23-year-old who broke into the scene in 2004 in Australia caused hosts a plenty of problems and in this Test, after a poor effort by the batsmen, came up with an inspirational effort helping Sri Lanka to get back into the game.

The previous day Malinga had helped his team to reduce the hosts for 66 for four as he picked up the vital wickets of Stephen Fleming, Nathan Astle and Jamie How.

Along with Muralitharan, Malinga bowled unchanged on day two and while the spinner picked up four, Malinga claimed the other two that fell during the day.

The day started disastrously for the bowler when Sanath Jayasuriya at gully put Brendon McCullum down off the first ball of the morning. McCullum hadn’t got off the mark when the catch was dropped and he went onto top score for NZ with 43. If the catch had been taken, the Kiwis would have struggled to get to even 100.

After the reprieve, it didn’t take Malinga long to take a wicket as he claimed the wicket of Matthew Sinclair with a superb yorker. The seamer bowling with the wind behind him used the yorker, his secret weapon, again in his next over to got rid of Daniel Vettori, who had frustrated the SL with a solid 63 in the previous Test. Vettori was out without scoring and reacted as if he hadn’t seen the ball.

This was Malinga’s second five wicket haul in Tests following his five for 34 against the same opponents at Napier last year.

After that, Murali joined the party as he polished off the tail claiming the last four wickets. Oram (1), Franklin (1) and Bond (8) all were ruled leg before wicket. It was his ‘doosra’ that allured the three batsmen as they played for the off-spin before being fooled by the one that went the other way.

McCullum, along with last man Chris Martin, kept SL on the field longer than what they would’ve liked. Murali used the ‘doosra’ again to clean bowl McCullum.

This was New Zealand’s fourth worst total against Sri Lanka after their 102 all out at SSC in 1993, 109 all out at Napier in ’95 and the 114 at Galle in ’98. On all three instances, SL won the match.

Sri Lanka started off their second innings perfectly as the opening pair of Jayasuriya and Tharanga put up their best partnership in the series. They took lunch being comfortably placed at 41 for none with a lead of 179.

Soon after the break, however, things didn’t go to SL’s liking as they lost three quick wickets. Tharanga was out second ball after lunch and a few minutes later came the dismissal of Sangakkara. The way he got out indicated lapse of concentration as he cut a Bond delivery straight into the hands of deep cover.

The next man to go was Jayasuriya, caught by Fleming at first slip off Vettori for 31. Captain Jayawardene and Chamara Kapugedara added 38 for the fourth wicket before Vettori dismissed Kapugedara for 27.

At 100 for four, Sri Lanka were still not really out of danger despite the healthy first innings lead and Jayawardene adopted his unusual defensive approach with the intention of not losing anymore wickets and the initiative they had. The captain added 68 for the fifth wicket with Chamara, who looked brilliant again.

Jayawardene looked determined to stay on and put a big one but was extremely unfortunate to be given out caught down the leg side by umpire Simon Taufel when on 31. Jayawardene had batted for close to three hours and had faced 121 balls during his knock and the disappointment was there to be seen on his face when he walked back to the pavilion.

Silva meanwhile carried on unruffled. His shot selection was absolutely brilliant. While Jayawardene was blocking at the other end, the 27-year-old went for his shots completing his second fifty in a row with an elegant cover drive.

The commentators here in New Zealand have called Silva the reincarnation of Aravinda de Silva as he showed a glimpse of the great man with some trademark shots of the Sri Lankan star.

The inside out shot against the spinner was played on few occasions and was executed to perfection and so was the on-drive, which he played with relative ease. His inclusion in the Test team, though it came very lately, has proved to be a good decision. The very fact that he was left in the cold for years after a dream debut in ODIs was an absolute shame. Silva along with wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene had an unbroken 57 run stand for the sixth wicket.

Scoreboard

Sri Lanka 1st Innings 268 (K. Sangakkara 156*)

New Zealand 1st Innings (66 for 4 o/n)

C. Cumming b Maharoof 13

J. How lbw b Malinga 26

M. Sinclair b Malinga 06

S. Fleming ct P. Jayawardene b Malinga 00

N. Astle b Malinga 17

B. McCullum b Muralitharan 43

D. Vettori b Malinga 00

J. Oram lbw b Muralitharan 01

J. Franklin lbw b Muralitharan 01

S. Bond lbw b Muralitharan 08

C. Martin not out 00

Extras: (b 7, lb 6, nb 2) 15

Total (all out in 39.1 ovs.) 130

Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-40, 3-40, 4-66, 5-75, 6-85, 7-90, 8-98, 9-116.

Bowling: Vaas 4-0-8-0, Malinga 18-3-65-5 (1nb), Maharoof 5-2-10-1 (1nb), Muralitharan 12.1-3-31-4.

Sri Lanka 2nd Innings

U. Tharanga lbw b Martin 20

S. Jayasuriya ct Fleming b Vettori 31

K. Sangakkara ct Franklin b Bond 08

M. Jayawardene ct Sinclair b Vettori 31

C. Kapugedara b Vettori 27

C. Silva not out 79

P. Jayawardene not out 22

Extras: (lb 4, nb 3) 07

Total (for five wickets in 71 ovs.) 225

Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-62, 3-62, 4-100, 5-168.

Bowling: Bond 14-2-49-1 (2nb), Martin 11-1-41-1 (1nb), Vettori 31-5-101-3, Franklyn 15-6-30-0.

Toss: SL, Umpires: Simon Taufel (AUS), Brian Jerling (RSA), Match Referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)

-The Sunday Island

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December 17, 2006 - Posted by | South Asia, Sports, Sports News & Opinion, World News

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