Kiwis regroup after Jawawardane, Samaraweera tons

LONDON: Sri Lanka's Thilan Samaraweera hit a solid 159 before skipper Daniel Vettori inspired a New Zealand comeback in the first cricket Test here on Wednesday.

Samaraweera's third Test century this year after two monumental double centuries in Pakistan in February helped Sri Lanka pile up 452 in their first innings by tea on the rain-curtailed second day.

The Black Caps responded bravely to the challenge by going to stumps at 87-2, with left-handed opener Tim McIntosh unbeaten on 36 and nightwatchman Jeetan Patel on six.

Martin Guptill and McIntosh raced to an opening stand of 45 in 10 overs before Guptill dragged a ball from Thilan Thushara on to his wicket after making 24.

Ajantha Mendis then bowled Daniel Flynn for 14, but Patel and McIntosh saw out the day with New Zealand still needing 166 runs to avoid the follow-on on a good batting strip.

Sri Lanka appeared to be running away with the match before the experienced Vettori stepped in to stage a New Zealand revival.

The left-arm spinner grabbed four wickets as Sri Lanka, 386-4 at one stage, lost six batsmen for 66 runs -- the last four for eight runs -- in a dramatic post-lunch session.

Vettori finished with 4-78 to take his career tally to 297 wickets and now needs just three more to become only the ninth player in Test history to achieve the double of 3,000 runs and 300 wickets.

"It was a pleasing day," the New Zealand captain said. "At least from the bowlers' point of view, I could not have asked for more.

"But the real test starts now and we need a few batsmen to put up big scores like the Sri Lankans did. The start had been good and we need to build on that."

Just 13 overs were bowled in the morning session after heavy rain delayed the start by two hours, and Sri Lanka moved from their overnight score of 293-3 to 328-4 by lunch.

Umpires Daryl Harper and Nigel Llong pushed back the lunch break by an hour to make up for lost time when the skies finally cleared.

The first day's play had seen just 78 overs of the stipulated 90 due to bad weather. More rain was expected in this southern coastal town over the next three days.

The Kiwis dismissed century-maker Mahela Jayawardene in a brief period of play before lunch, caught at first slip by Ross Taylor off Iain O'Brien in the day's second over.

Jayawardene added six runs to his overnight score of 108 before falling for 114, his 26th Test century.

"I paid the price for a poor shot," said the former Sri Lankan captain. "But we still have done well to put up more than 450 on the board and taken two wickets.

"We should be able to put New Zealand under pressure as the match goes on because the spinners will begin to get some turn."

Samaraweera reached his 10th hundred soon after lunch during a fifth-wicket stand of 86 with Angelo Mathews.

Vettori triggered the collapse when he had Mathews caught behind by wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum for 39.

Vettori ended Samaraweera's six-hour vigil at the crease as the batsman lofted a flighted ball into the hands of Patel at long-off.

Seamer Chris Martin removed Nuwan Kulasekara and Muttiah Muralitharan in one over to finish with 4-77, before Vettori ended the innings with the wicket of Thushara.


Sri Lanka 1st innings overnight 293-3

T. Paranavitana c McCullum b Martin 0

T. Dilshan b O'Brien 92

K. Sangakkara c Flynn b Martin 8

M. Jayawardene c Taylor b O'Brien 114

T. Samaraweera c Patel b Vettori 159

A. Mathews c McCullum b Vettori 39

P. Jayawardene c Flynn b Vettori 7

N. Kulasekara c McCullum b Martin 18

T. Thushara c O'Brien b Vettori 0

M. Muralitharan c McCullum b Martin 8

A. Mendis not out 0

Extras b1, lb2, nb2, w2 7

Total all out, 117.4 overs 452

Fall of wkts 1-0, 2-16, 3-134, 4-300, 5-386, 6-408, 7-444, 8-444, 9-452, 10-452


Martin 23-5-77-4, O'Brien 21-1-125-2 (nb2, w1), Oram 7-1-25-0, Vettori 37.4-9-78-4, Patel 24-3-120-0, Ryder 5-1-24-0 (w1)

New Zealand 1st innings

T. McIntosh not out 36

M. Guptill b Thushara 24

D. Flynn b Mendis 14

J. Patel not out 6

Extras b4, nb3 7

Total for 2 wkts, 29 overs 87

To bat Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori, Iain O'Brien, Chris Martin

Fall of wkts 1-45, 2-80

Bowling Kulasekara 4-0-21-0, Thushara 8-1-29-1 (nb3), Mendis 11-3-26-1, Muralitharan 6-2-7-0

Toss New Zealand