Weather holds key as Sri Lanka press for win

GALLE: Bad weather appeared the main stumbling block in Sri Lanka's bid to win the first Test after illness-hit New Zealand were boxed into a corner on Friday.

The tourists, set an improbable target of 413 following an unbeaten century by Tillakaratne Dilshan, plodded to 30-1 in 13 overs by stumps on the fourth day at the Galle International Stadium.

Dilshan made 123 not out as Sri Lanka declared their second innings at 259-4 at the stroke of tea.

A sharp shower during the tea break interrupted play by 40 minutes but New Zealand lost the wicket of Daniel Flynn before stumps when he was caught in the slips off Nuwan Kulasekara.

Martin Guptill was unbeaten on 17 and Ross Taylor was on eight when bad light stopped play with 14 overs remaining in the day.

Rain has been forecast during the final day's play on Saturday in which Sri Lanka have three sessions to bowl out the tourists and take the lead in the two-Test series.

New Zealand may be without influential batsman Jesse Ryder and wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum in their second knock after the duo suffered a stomach bug and were confined to their hotel rooms on Friday.

"They are very sick and I am not sure if, and at what stage, they will take part in this Test," Black Caps manager David Currie told reporters.

Sri Lanka accepted New Zealand's request to field reserve wicket-keeper Reece Young on Friday since Ryder had been nominated to don the gloves if McCullum got injured.

Rules do not normally allow anyone outside the playing XI from keeping wicket.

Earlier, Thilan Thushara and Muttiah Muralitharan finished with four wickets each as New Zealand, replying to Sri Lanka's 452, were bowled out for 299 in their first innings.

Muralitharan, Test cricket's leading bowler, had Iain O'Brien caught behind to claim his 100th wicket at Galle and take his overall record tally to 774 wickets.

Thushara then bowled Daniel Vettori in his first over, but not before the New Zealand captain had contributed a defiant 42.

Dilshan, promoted to open the innings in this Test for the first time in his career, followed a brilliant 92 in the first innings with 12 boundaries and a six in his ninth Test century.

Sri Lanka lost Tharanga Paranavitana before lunch when he was snapped up in the slips by Ross Taylor off O'Brien.

Dilshan, batting in his typically aggressive manner, put on 101 runs for the second wicket with skipper Kumar Sangakkara and 54 for the third with Mahela Jayawardene.

Sangakkara was unlucky to be dismissed on 46 when Vettori deflected a powerful drive from Dilshan on to the non-striker's stumps with the Sri Lankan captain out of his crease.

Jayawardene gave off-spinner Jeetan Patel a return catch after making 27, and Thilan Samaraweera top-edged a drive off Vettori behind the wicket-keeper and Taylor picked up the skier.

Prasanna Jayawardene hit a 26-ball 30 during a fifth-wicket stand of 54 with Dilshan before Sangakkara declared the innings.


Sri Lanka 1st innings 452 M. Jayawardene 114, T. Samaraweera 159, D. Vettori 4-78

New Zealand 1st innings

T. McIntosh lbw b Muralitharan 69

M. Guptill b Thushara 24

D. Flynn b Mendis 14

J. Patel lbw b Muralitharan 26

R. Taylor c P. Jayawardene b Thushara 35

J. Ryder b Kulasekara 42

B. McCullum b Thushara 1

J. Oram c sub (Warnapura) b Muralitharan 12

D. Vettori b Thushara 42

I. O'Brien c P. Jayawardene b Muralitharan 9

C. Martin not out 2

Extras b6, lb5, w1, nb11 23

Total for all out 299

Fall of wkts 1-45, 2-80, 3-129, 4-180, 5-188, 6-195, 7-223, 8-259, 9-290, 10-299


Kulasekara 10-2-41-1 (nb1), Thushara 23-2-81-4 (nb6, w1), Mendis 39-8-85-1 (nb4), Muralitharan 42-10-73-4, Paranavitana 2-0-8-0

Sri Lanka 2nd innings

T. Paranavitana c Taylor b O'Brien 5

T. Dilshan not out 123

K. Sangakkara run out 46

M. Jayawardene c and b Patel 27

T. Samaraweera c Taylor b Vettori 20

P. Jayawardene not out 30

Extras b5, lb3 8

Total for 4 wkts decl 259

Fall of wkts 1-19, 2-120, 3-174, 4-205


Martin 5-1-25-0, O'Brien 8-1-45-1, Oram 5-0-31-0, Vettori 19-3-81-1, Patel 12-0-69-1

New Zealand 2nd innings

M. Guptill not out 17

D. Flynn c M. Jayawardene b Kulasekara 0

R. Taylor not out 8

Extras b4, lb1 5

Total for one wkt 30

Fall of wkt 1-1


Kulasekara 3-0-10-1, Thushara 2-2-0-0, Mendis 4-1-9-0, Muralitharan 4-2-6-0