Danny Byrene’s Report: “The rain stays away as 12 wickets fall in the day to leave the match nicely balanced”
Most batsmen go through a period in their careers when they can’t score runs as easily as before, though in Steven Smith’s case it required a piece of sandpaper and a nine month ban to produce the equivalent effect. Ross Taylor went through a lean period in 2018 when he only managed 277 runs from 12 innings at 23.08. His current average is 47.31 having stormed back into form with a double century against Bangladesh at the Basin Reserve in March of this year. He has scored Test centuries against all the competing sides excluding Ireland and Afghanistan with the exception of South Africa. This morning he was hoping to add to his tally of 18 centuries resuming his innings on 86 not out. Play began 15 minutes early to make up for the 22 overs lost to the weather the previous day. Taylor was caught behind off the first ball he faced, a warm-up delivery from Lakmal that he tried to cut behind square leg ( 205 – 6 ). Santner was lbw to Lakmal twenty minutes later not offering a shot ( 216 – 7 ) and Southee took this as a cue to try to hit some sixes. He smashed Dananjaya over long-on despite a fielder being stationed there and was then comically run out from first slip three balls later not realizing where the ball had gone ( 222 – 8 ).
Somerville edged Lakmal wide of gully for a boundary and was then given out by Richard Illingworth in the next over. The batsman appealed and the bat/pad catch and a possible lbw adjudication were both checked by the third umpire with a not out verdict being decided in the end. Boult attempted a sweep and the ball got stuck in his visor. The Sri Lankan fielders helped release the ball and jokingly tried to claim a catch. Embuldeniya bowled a few overs to give Lakmal a rest and Boult hit a six over the rope at long-off. Lakmal returned and the new ball was taken after 81 overs. Boult was caught at long on from the first delivery after the drinks break ( 249 – 9 ). Ajaz was lbw to the next ball leaving Lakmal on a hat-trick when the New Zealand second innings eventually begins. Lakmal finished with figures of 4 – 29 and Dananjaya 5 – 80. The last 5 wickets had fallen in 66 minutes for the addition of 46 runs to the overnight total.
Frank and Thirimanne survived 7 overs from Boult and Southee before Somerville was introduced from the Pavilion End. Ajaz replaced Boult at the Fort End after two more overs and Thirimanne had a Jason Roy moment a few overs later and was stumped about five metres out of his crease ( 27 – 1 ). Frank [Karunaratne] offered a very difficult chance when edging Somerville between the keeper and slip and at lunch Sri Lanka had reached 34 – 1 from 13 overs. During the interval a New Zealand supporter called Bevan told me a funny story about Chris Martin from his days playing for Canterbury. Apparently he used to travel to training every day on a push bike as he didn’t need to carry anything with him other than his whites and the bowling shoes he was wearing.
The first delivery after the interval was smashed through extra cover by Mendis off Somerville. The Sri Lankans were increasing the scoring rate until Ajaz trapped Frank lbw on the back foot for 39 with a quicker ball ( 66 – 2 ). Mendis took 12 off an over from Somerville with a slog sweep over deep mid wicket landing in the mud in front of the Galle CC Stand. Santner replaced Somerville from the Pavilion End and a review was wasted trying to persuade the third umpire to give Mendis out lbw. The 50 partnership between Mendis and Mathews was completed from 100 balls. Mendis had scored his first 33 runs from 40 deliveries but ended up requiring 87 to reach his half century. Two balls later he was caught at slip by Taylor attempting a big drive in the last over before Tea. The scoreboard was showing 143 – 3 as the players left the field and Ajaz Patel had taken all three wickets.
The Bar in the Galle CC Stand had been doing great business since 11 am and the volume of verbal diarrhoea had steadily increased in the surrounding seats to such an extent that it was a relief when the shutters came down at 2 pm for a three hour break. Such tactics were never going to slow down the dedicated drinkers and they just wandered off to other parts of the ground to stock up on pints and cans before returning to their seats. After the break Kusal Perera, the hero of Durban ducked into a short ball from Boult with his eyes closed and the ball rebounded to Santner at short cover off a horizontal bat ( 144 – 4 ). De Silva was caught and bowled by Ajaz to another brainless shot ( 155 – 5 ) and a familiar Sri Lankan collapse appeared to be on the cards. Mathews completed his half century from 97 balls and was caught at slip in the next over ( 158 – 6 ). Ajaz had figures of 5 – 47 and the Kiwis were clearly in the ascendancy.
Somerville managed to induce Dananjaya to edge to slip ( 161 – 7 ) before Lakmal smashed Ajaz over cow corner for a six. Lakmal was given out by Illingworth and once the appeal was lodged the third umpire checked all the possible modes of dismissal before again overturning the decision. Boult had a spell from the Pavilion End and Dickwella countered with some effective if unorthodox shots including a ramp shot straight over the wicket-keeper for four. The 50 partnership between Lakmal and Dickwella required 106 balls and it brought the home side right back into the match. The batsmen survived until the close of play with the final score 227 – 7 from 80 overs and the overall New Zealand lead only 22 runs. One solitary Red-wattled Lapwing patrolled around the deep fine leg boundary during the afternoon session and the fate of the two little babies from yesterday remains unknown.