Black Caps avoid follow-on
GALLE: Resolute batting by New Zealand’s eighth-wicket pair of Jesse Ryder and Daniel Vettori denied Sri Lanka a follow-on in the first Test here today.
The duo, who came together with the Black Caps still needing 30 runs to avoid the follow-on in the rain-hit Test, put on a defiant stand of 36 after tea on the third day. Ryder was dismissed for 42, but skipper Vettori returned unbeaten on 33 as New Zealand ended the day at 281-8, still 171 runs behind Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 452. Tailender Iain O’Brien (three) was the other batsman at the crease.
The Black Caps, led by a gutsy 69 from left-handed opener Tim McIntosh, were sitting pretty at 180-3 when three wickets fell for 15 runs
in the post-lunch session.
The collapse was triggered by two wickets from left-arm seamer Thilan Thushara,
who had Ross Taylor (35) caught behind and bowled Brendon McCullum (one)
off the inside edge.
Star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan had two lucky breaks when he earned a leg-before verdict against McIntosh and had Jacob Oram (12) caught off the pad at short-leg. Television replays showed Australian umpire Daryl Harper erred in both decisions.
The middle order collapse undid the good work of McIntosh, who had batted through the rain-affected morning session after resuming at his overnight score of 36. The left-hander survived two blows on his helmet and shoulder by rising deliveries from Thushara, but hung on for six hours to anchor New Zealand’s reply.
The 29-year-old Auckland batsman, who has a century to his credit in five previous Tests but had never played an international match outside New Zealand, hit six boundaries and a six.
Nightwatchman Jeetan Patel (26) helped McIntosh put on 49 for the third wicket before he was leg-before to Muralitharan 20 minutes before lunch. Taylor added 51 runs for the fourth wicket when he edged a well-pitched delivery from Thushara to wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene.
Muralitharan, the most successful Test bowler in history, took his record tally to 773 with the wickets of McIntosh and Oram. New Zealand play two Tests, two Twenty20 internationals and a limited-overs tri-series also featuring India during the five-week tour.