CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AFP) – Two late wickets by Trent Boult put New Zealand back in control of the first Test against Sri Lanka Sunday after a maiden Test century by Dimuth Karunaratne had briefly given the tourists a glimmer of hope.
Sri Lanka were closing in on wiping out their 303-run first innings deficit with seven wickets in hand when Boult brought their cautious progress at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval to a halt.
He removed the defiant Karunaratne for 152 and Niroshan Dickwella for four as Sri Lanka were reduced to 293-5 at stumps, still 10 runs from making New Zealand bat again.
Angelo Mathews is not out 53 with Tharindu Kaushal on five while Boult, New Zealand’s chief wicket-taker, has three for 62.
Karunaratne was annoyed with his dismissal which came as he was about to appeal against the fading light.
“The light was a bit low. Boult was bowling beautifully at that time. I wanted to tell the umpires it was difficult to bat and just get to the dressing room,” he said.
Karunaratne believed a lead of 150 was possible for Sri Lanka and would be competitive on a turning wicket.
But New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling said Boult’s late double strike kept the initiative with the Black Caps.
“To make the bang-bang tonight put us back in the position where we look comfortable,” Watling said.
“They obviously fought hard and played some good cricket but, all-in-all, 200 runs and five wickets in a day and they’re still behind us that’s a good day for us.”
Karunaratne’s wicket was vital for New Zealand after the 26-year-old had stood in 87-run partnership with Lahiru Thirimanne (25) for the third wicket and then a 97-run stand with Angelo Mathews.
The left-hander had been under enormous pressure after making a four-ball duck in Sri Lanka’s first innings paltry 138 in reply to New Zealand’s 441 and were forced to follow on. But he easily surpassed his previous Test best of 85.