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POST TIME: 16 December, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Sri Lanka struggle in New Zealand
AFP, Wellington

Sri Lanka struggle in New Zealand

Paceman Tim Southee skittled Sri Lanka’s top order with a five-wicket haul to give New Zealand an edge on the opening day of the first Test in Wellington on Saturday. Southee took three scalps in a devastating opening spell to reduce the tourists to nine for three, then followed with a double strike to snuff out a promising fightback in the final session.

Sri Lanka were 275 for nine at stumps, with their hopes resting on a rearguard action from Niroshan Dickwella, who was not out on 73. Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne were the only other batsman to offer any meaningful resistance, notching 83 and 79 respectively and forging a 133-run partnership.

Mathews said it was a difficult wicket to play on as the ball nipped around early, although he was wary of conditions possibly easing when New Zealand bat on day two. “We need as much (runs) as we can,” he said. “The wicket might get better once the sun is out.”

Southee ended the day with five for 67 in 25 overs, his eighth five-wicket haul in Test cricket and his best figures at the Basin Reserve. His early burst ensured New Zealand’s decision to bowl on a green wicket after winning the toss reaped immediate rewards.

Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal said before the match that he wanted his top order to survive the first hour and see off the new ball but the wickets began to tumble in just the second over.

Danushka Gunathilaka was Southee’s first victim, out lbw for one after failing to deal with a late inswinger.

Dhananjaya de Silva then edged through to the keeper for the same score and a clearly rattled Kusal Mendis only managed to reach two before hitting a simple catch to Ajaz Patel at mid-wicket.