By Srian Obeyesekere
Sri Lanka made 305 for 6 wickets after being put into bat by New Zealand on the opening day on a green top wickets in the 2-off test series of the World Test Championship 2023, at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch on Thursday. The Lankans overcame the early setback of losing Oshada Fernando for 13 with the score 14 to the bowling of New Zealand skipper Tim Southee who had him caught by Tim Blendell before Kusal Mendis fired a blitzkrieg 87 off 83 balls in associating in a 137-run second wicket partnership with skipper Dimuth Karunaratne who scored 50 off 87. Mendis fell when in sight of three figures when moved down the wicket to a delivery from Southee who trapped him plumb leg before wicket. Five balls later Sri Lanka lost a second wicket with no addition to the score when Dimuth Karunaratn was dismissed by Matt Henry who had him caught by Latham as the Kiwis came back strongly to leave the Lankans on 151 for 3 after 33.4 overs. Mendis’ innings contained 16 boundaries. Karunaratne’s innings contained 7 boundaries. The innings was revived by a fourth wicket partnership of 82 between Angelo Matthews who scored a sedate 47 off 98 inclusive of 6 boundaries and a six, and Dineth Chandimal 39 off 64 containing 6 boundaries.
When bad light brought a premature end to the day’s proceedings after 75 overs Dhananjaya de Silva was unbeaten on 39 off 52 having crossed the boundary four times and sending one over the top with Kasun Rajitha with him on 16 taking Sri Lanka past the 300-mark in a rousing unfinished 37-run pairing for the seventh wicket off 44 balls in reviving the innings from a shaky 268 for 6 with wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella gone for 7 following the wickets of Chandimal who was fourth out with the score on 233 to Southee with Latham taking his second catch. Matthews was fifth out leg before wicket to Mitchell Bracewell with the score on 260. Rajitha pierced the boundary thrice in his 16-ball knock the Lankan pacie kept afloat for the next day.
The New Zealand skipper’s decision to put Sri Lanka in after winning the toss was influenced by the green top surface that he,early justified by removing Fernando, but the Mendis-Karunaratne second wicket pairing put the visitors on a sound footing. But then the hosts pushed it back claiming 5 wickets for the addition of 117 runs within 35.4 deliveries with Southee ending the day with figures of 3 for 44 and Matt Henry 2 for 65 with Michael Bracewell 1 for 17.
CHIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 305/6 (75 Overs) (Kusal Mendis 87, Dimuth Karunaratne 50, Angelo Matthews 47, Dinesh Chandimal 39, Oshada Fernando 13, Dhananjaya de Silva n.o. 39, Kasun Rajitha n.o. 16, Tim Southee 3/44, Matt Henry 2/65, Michael Bracewell 1/17)