Ailing Kiwis face heavy defeat

GALLE: Sri Lanka were on the verge of a huge victory against New Zealand in their first cricket Test after illness-plagued New Zealand collapsed on Saturday.

The Kiwis, set an improbable target of 413 runs, were reduced to 125-5 by lunch on the fifth and final day at the Galle International Stadium.

Skipper Daniel Vettori kept the Black Caps afloat with an unbeaten 42, while Jesse Ryder was on 22 at the break.

Left-arm seamer Thilan Thushara picked up two wickets, with Sri Lanka having two more sessions to complete the formalities under bright sunshine to take the lead in the two-Test series.

The tourists, who have 13 of their 15 players affected by a stomach bug and viral fever, did not find an ally even in the weather as clear skies broke over the coastal town for the first time since the Test began.

New Zealand added seven runs to their overnight score of 30-1 when Thushara bowled Martin Guptill with a superb ball that moved after pitching and clipped the off-stump. The batsman made 18.

Tim McIntosh, top-scorer in the first innings with 69 who could not open on Friday evening due to viral fever, batted for 14 minutes without scoring when he edged a Thushara outswinger.

Thilan Samaraweera picked up a low catch at third slip which was referred to the third umpire before the umpires gave the batsman out.

Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara surprisingly handed the ball to part-time spinner Mahela Jayawardene and the former captain struck with his second delivery to claim only his sixth wicket in 106 Tests.

Ross Taylor, who looked solid making 16, played at a ball down the leg-side and nudged a catch to wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene to reduce New Zealand to 45-4 within the first hour.

Jacob Oram and Vettori put on 41 for the fifth wicket, but spinner Ajantha Mendis ended the defiant stand by having Oram leg-before for 21.

The second and final Test will be played at the Sinhalese sports club in Colombo from Wednesday.

New Zealand will also play two Twenty20 internationals against Sri Lanka and a limited-overs tri-series with India as the third team.