Stumps New Zealand 162 for 5 (Latham 67, Mitchell 40*, Kumara 2-34, Asitha 2-42) trail Sri Lanka 355 (Mendis 87, Southee 5-64, Henry 4-80) by 193 runs
Dhananjaya de Silva, Sri Lanka’s last recognised batter, fell having added just 10 runs to his overnight total, wafting at one outside off, while the rest of the Lankan tail came together to add a further 40, as Sri Lanka finished on 355.
The New Zealand openers for their part made it through the six overs prior to lunch with little trouble. Post lunch, while Latham was going, New Zealand’s progress was slow but steady. Alongside his opening partner Devon Conway, he weathered the early movement utilised by the likes of Asitha and Rajitha, while there was also a little bit more zip to the surface as opposed to the opening day, which aided the likes of Kumara.
Nevertheless the pair stuck to their tasks, milking ones and twos on the onside and down the ground, while awaiting rare short and wide deliveries to secure boundaries. The pair would put on 67 for the opening stand, however just when Sri Lanka’s seamers might have been tiring Asitha provided the breakthrough, getting one to nip back and trap Conway leg before. Conway might count himself a touch unfortunate though to have been given out by the on-field umpire, with DRS showing umpire’s call on both impact and whether it was hitting the wickets.
That wicket would give Sri Lanka a renewed burst of energy to seek a second before the break, and Kane Williamson would oblige on the stroke of tea, with an uppish drive straight to the man catching at cover. Henry Nicholls would then fall shortly after the restart, top edging a pull off Lahiru Kumara.
At this point Sri Lanka were well and truly on top, a state of affairs punctuated by the excellent Rajitha, who would torment Mitchell – who had just arrived at the crease – probing and teasing his off stump. That Mitchell would survive this period was a minor miracle, particularly after one delivery that – to borrow a phrase from football parlance – might have given him twisted blood.
Angling in from slightly wide of the crease, Rajitha would pitch this on the border of offstump, on the edge of a good length, and then get it to shape away right at the death, beating Mitchell and the stumps by the barest of margins. If not for a graze on the outside of the pad, his stumps would have certainly been under threat.
Sri Lanka’s only misstep might have been offering Angelo Mathews, with his 115kph gentle seamers, the ball during this period, though the thought process behind it – providing the front line seamers a rest while still utilising the swing on offer – was understandable. This period offered the New Zealand batters a minor reprieve, with Mitchell memorably launching Mathews down the ground for a six.
Mitchell and Latham would proceed to put on 58 together before another moment of brilliance swung the pendulum back towards the visitors. Following periods of spin from Prabath Jayasuriya and Dhananjaya de Silva, Asitha returned to dismiss Latham in explosive fashion – a leg stump yorker from around the wicket, and an animated send off to boot.
Rajitha would then finally get the wicket his performance deserved, getting Blundell to nick one through after yet another exquisite out swinger on off stump.
Mitchell and Bracewell would survive till stumps, but with a 193-run deficit ahead of them, Sri Lanka would undoubtedly be the happier of the two sides going into day three.
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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