WELLINGTON - After Tim Southee ran amok with 5/67 to cripple Sri Lanka’s batting, the visitors rallied back to post 275/9 on day one of the first Test against New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.

Angelo Matthews (83), Dimuth Karunaratne (79) and Niroshan Dickwella (73*) were the stars for the visitors as they notched up crucial half-centuries that guided Sri Lanka to a total in the vicinity of 300.

Kane Williamson opted to bowl, and Southee, who was dropped from the playing XI against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, made a thumping return. His first scalp was Danushka Gunathilaka (1), who was trapped lbw by a good-length delivery that swung in a little bit towards the batsman.

Dhananjaya de Silva then followed Gunathilaka to the pavilion soon after. De Silva tried to drive an out-swinger from Southee, but ended up edging it to BJ Watling behind the wicket.  Kusal Mendis was then dismissed off the last delivery in the same over, leaving Sri Lanka reeling at 9/3. Dimuth Karunaratne (79) and Angelo Mathews (83) dug in thereafter, denying the hosts a chance to cause any further problems in the morning session.

The duo added 64 runs to take Sri Lanka to 73/3 before lunch, leading an impressive recovery after the nightmare start to their innings. Both batsmen took their time to settle in, and looked unperturbed under considerable pressure from the hosts.

New Zealand had a golden opportunity in the 20th over, when Karunaratne flicked Colin de Grandhomme straight to mid-wicket, but was saved by a no-ball. Sri Lanka continued to rebuild in the second session even as the fast bowlers struggled to find their rhythm in the first hour after lunch. Karunaratne and Mathews pulled their team back in the game, and went on to add 133 runs for the fourth wicket.

Just when it seemed like the visitors would win the afternoon session without losing a wicket, Neil Wagner broke the deadlock by baiting Karunaratne with a short ball from around the wicket. It clipped the left-hand batsman’s gloves, nestling safely to Watling.

Dinesh Chandimal and Matthews fell in quick succession after that, and Sri Lanka went from a promising 142/4 to a worrisome 187/6. Dickwella then came in and carried the baton for Sri Lanka , standing firm at one end as wickets tumbled around him.

He approached his innings with typical aggression, amassing 73 unbeaten runs in just 91 deliveries. The wicket-keeper batsman formed a couple of important partnerships with the lower order – his 35-run stand with Kasun Rajitha for the ninth wicket was crucial in the context of the game – as Sri Lanka finished the day with a wicket in hand.

 

Scorecard

SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS:

M Gunathilaka lbw Southee................................... 1

F Karunaratne c Watling b Wagner.................... 79

D de Silva c Watling b Southee.............................. 1

K Mendis c Patel b Southee..................................... 2

A Mathews c Watling b Southee......................... 83

D Chandimal c Patel b Southee.............................. 6

N Dickwella not out.................................................. 73

D Perera c Watling b de Grandhomme............. 16

S Lakmal c Nicholls b Wagner................................ 3

K Rajitha c Watling b Boult....................................... 2

L Kumara not out........................................................ 0

EXTRAS: (lb7, nb2)..................................................... 9

TOTAL: (9 wkts, 87 overs).................................. 275

FOW: 1-5, 2-7, 3-9, 4-142, 5-167, 6-187, 7-223, 8-240, 9-275

BOWLING: Boult 26-6-77-1, Southee 25-6-67-5, de Grandhomme 13-2-35-1 (nb1), Wagner 20-2-75-2 (nb1), Patel 3-0-14-0

TOSS: New Zealand

UMPIRES: Rod Tucker (AUS), Michael Gough (ENG)

TV UMPIRE: Richard Illingworth (ENG)

MATCH REFEREE: Richie Richardson (WIS)