By Srian Obeyesekere
Medium fast pacer Blair Tickner grabbed three wickets to reduce Sri Lanka to 83 for 3 as New Zealand wrested the initiative having totalled 373 in reply to the Lankans 355 on the third day of the first test on Friday at the Hagley Oval at Christchurch. Twenty-nine year old Tickner, making his second test appearance, started the slide by removing Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne for 17 with the score on 28 when he had the left hander caught by Henry Nichols in the eleventh over. Karunaratne lasted 45 deliveries hitting one boundary. Twenty deliveries later Tickner sent back Oshada Fernando for 28 held by Tom Blundell making it 2 for 47- Fernando faced 57 balls hitting 4 boundaries. Sixteen overs later Blair Tickler, generating seam off the wearing off surface, struck with the prize wicket of Kusal Mendis sending him back for 14 caught by Bracewll and Sri Lanka had lost a third wicket for 81 after 33-4 overs as the Kiwi pace attack kept a tight rein on the visitors.
At stumps Angelo Matthews was on 20 off 62 with a solitary boundary and night watchman Prabath Jayasuriya on 2 having sparred 14 balls in a decisive 2-Test series as the prospects of Sri Lanka entering the final of the ICC World Test Championship hinged on Karunaratne’s team winning both tests to go,the,distance.
The edge Sri Lanka had enjoyed going into the third day with the hosts resuming on the back foot of 162 for 5 evaporated as New Zealand broke free despite losing a sixth wicket for 188 with the last four wickets adding 185. Overnight batsman Daryl Mitchell went on to convert from 40 to a decisive 102 off 193 filled with 6 boundaries and 2′ sixes.’But the turning point to swelling the total was Matt Henry’s cameo 72 off 75 capped by 10 across and 3 over the top. The seventh wicket partnership between Mitchell and Tim Southee realized 45 runs and the eighth wicket between Mitchell and Henry was worth 56 with the ninth-wicket partnership between Henry and Neil Wagner the final sword edge worth 69 runs that took New Zealand past Sri Lanka’s first innings 355.
CHIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 355 & 83/3 (38 Overs) (Oshada Fernando 28, Dimuth Karunaratne 17, Kusal Mendis 14, Angelo Matthews n.o. 20, Prabath Jayasuriya n.o. 2, Blair Tickner 3/28) New Zealand 373 102-3 Overs) (Daryl Mitchell 102, Matt Henry 72, Tim Southee 25, Neil Wagner 27, Asitha Fernando 4/85, Lahiru Kumara 3/76, Kasun Rajitha 2/104, Prabath Jayasuriya 1/45)