Jayawardene, Samaraweera put Lanka on top
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Ground:Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo
Scorecard:Sri Lanka v New Zealand
Player:DL Vettori, TT Samaraweera, DPMD Jayawardene, KC Sangakkara
Event:New Zealand in Sri Lanka 2009

DateLine: 26th August 2009


Mahela Jayawardene was unbeaten on 79 and Thilan Samaraweera on 78 when Sri Lanka ended the first day at 262 for 3. New Zealand bowlers did well as they showed much more discipline than the first Test as they managed to keep the Lankan batsmen scoreless for a long period off time. But some authoritative batting from Jayawardene and Samaraweera helped Lanka to wrest back the control of the Test from New Zealand to finish the day on top.


There was delay to the start off play as overnight rain and early morning rain had made the ground unfit for the scheduled start of play. Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first to make use off the dry wicket. It was a truncated first session, as both the teams fought tooth and nail not to let the session slip away from them. The opening bowlers Martin and O’Brien opted for accuracy rather than try and blast out the batsmen. Both the bowlers kept the length full and just outside the off stump and very rarely strayed from their task. They were able to tie down Dilshan who had torn them apart without mercy in the first Test. Vettori sensing that his pacers are economical rather than incisive brought on himself as early as the eleventh over. He struck in his very second over as he got one to straighten just a bit to catch a tentative edge off Paranavitana’s bat and the ball went straight to Taylor at first slip.


That wicket brought in Sangakkara who began to sweep furiously whenever Vettori pitched it full. His plan was simple, sweep to put Vettori off and then when he pitches it short employ the cut shot. Vettori knowing that the pitch is not offering anything for the bowlers had to vary his pace to beat the batsmen. Several times Sangakkara was early into the shot but he adjusted quickly. Dilshan meanwhile looked a far cry from what he was during the first Test as he worked the ball around for singles. The pair took the Lankan score to 62 for the loss of one wicket till lunch. Post-lunch, New Zealand struck as O’Brien was able to induce a leading edge from Dilshan which the bowler caught on his follow-through.


Sangakkara meanwhile motored along collecting his singles but more importantly he could not find the boundaries. The battle between him and Vettori was engrossing to see as the bowler varied his pace beautifully to keep Sangakkara guessing. Sangakkara got to his fifty with a furious sweep and then when he tried to slog Vettori over midwicket he could only send the ball as far as deep midwicket where Oram took a easy catch. That wicket gave Vettori his 300th Test wicket and he became the only left-arm spinner to get to the milestone.


That brought in Samaraweera who’s batting form is in purple patch and he continued to torment the Kiwi bowlers with his accumulation. After the prolific duo of Sangakkara and Jayawardene, the Jayawardene-Samaraweera combination in the middle is fast becoming a force to reckon with for the bowlers. The duo rarely looked in any sort of trouble as they went about their task meticulously. The pair used their feet to negate the spin and pace off Vettori and for the pacers they adopted the waiting game. The Kiwi bowlers bowled a restricting line but the hot and humid conditions at the ground made them to bowl some freebies and off the two Samaraweera took full toll of the offerings.


The New Zealand bowlers managed to keep the Lankan batsmen quiet for a long period of time as they headed for tea with the score reading 146 for 3. Soon after the resumption after the tea break, Jayawardene broke the shackles as he found the ropes three times in ten balls, with the third one raising the fifty run association between the two. Jayawardene soon crossed the fifty run mark and just when it looked that he would open up, he chose to go slow. Meanwhile Samaraweera began to go for his shots as he found the boundaries regularly. Samaraweera looked to be in a hurry as he raced through his twenties, thirties and forties in a flash to reach his half-century. He continued to fetch boundaries when New Zealand bowlers seem to find some rhythm but once the new ball was taken, the Kiwi bowlers managed to keep the batsmen in check.


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