COLOMBO    -   Sri Lanka reached 85-2 after losing the wickets of Lahiru Thirimanne and Kusal Mendis on a rain-truncated opening day in the second and final test against New Zealand in Colombo on Thursday.

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne continued his rich vein of form to remain unbeaten on 49 with Angelo Mathews yet to score as only 36.3 overs of play were possible due to rain and bad light. The hosts, who won the opening test in Galle by six wickets, made a watchful start after Karunaratne won the toss and opted to bat after a lengthy delay in the morning.

New Zealand’s seamers had no joy with the new ball and it was left to off-spinner William Somerville to strike the first blow when he dismissed Thirimanne for two. Karunaratne, who struck a match-winning 122 in the second innings in Galle, and Mendis kept the touring side at bay with a partnership of 50 for the second wicket before the latter fell for 32 to seam bowling all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.

Both teams made one change from the first test with New Zealand bringing in De Grandhomme for specialist spinner Mitchell Santner. The hosts drafted in off-spinner Dilruwan Perera for Akila Dananjaya, who was reported by the umpires for a suspect bowling action after his six-wicket match haul in Galle.

New Zealand all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, who made the XI in place of Mitchell Santner, said the match was “evenly poised”. “There’s a bit of more bounce on this track than what we encountered in Galle and that’s nice,” he said after play ended. “If we can get a couple of early wickets tomorrow morning that will be nice.”

Karunaratne batted with positive intent despite losing opening partner Lahiru Thirimanne and Kusal Mendis either side of tea. Thirimanne never looked comfortable and his 59-minute stay at the wicket produced just two runs. His misery ended when he pushed a William Somerville delivery and was caught at extra cover by skipper Kane Williamson. He had been earlier dropped by wicketkeeper B.J. Watling off Somerville. Mendis looked good as he reached 32 with four fours and put on 50 runs with Karunaratne to steady the batting.

De Grandhomme got Mendis caught behind on a seaming delivery outside the off stump and Watling gloved the catch. “I was just trying to be patient and stay for a longer period operating in the same line until he made a mistake and he did that, and we were glad to claim that wicket just before close of play,” de Grandhomme said. The hosts only need a draw to clinch the two-match series. Both teams made one change from the first match.

Sri Lanka included veteran spinner Dilruwan Perera in place of Akila Dananjaya, who was reported for a suspect bowling action after the first Test. The entire opening session and another hour was lost due to persistent rain and the toss took place 12:40 pm. The afternoon session went uninterrupted but play was again delayed by 28 minutes after tea due to rain. After 7.3 overs in the evening session, play was called off due to bad light. Play will resume on day two 15 minutes before schedule at 9:15 am.




D Karunaratne not out 49

L Thirimanne c Williamson b Somerville 2

K Mendis c Watling b de Grandhomme 32

A Mathews not out 0

EXTRAS: (b 1, lb 1) 2

TOTAL: (2 wkts, 36.3 overs) 85

FOW: 1-29, 2-79.

BOWLING: TA Boult 7-2-20-0, TG Southee 12-4-22-0, C de Grandhomme 8.3-2-14-1, WER Somerville 6-3-20-1, AY Patel 3-1-7-0.

NEW ZEALAND: Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, William Somerville, Trent Boult and Ajaz Patel.

Toss: Sri Lanka

UMPIRES: Michael Gough, Bruce Oxenford

TV UMPIRE: Richard Illingworth