The Sri Lankans have seized the initiative after an eventful second day of the 2nd Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. The Black Caps were skittled out for a paltry 130 and the Lankan batsmen came to the party to build up on their handsome first innings lead of 138 runs. A lead of 365 already with five second innings wickets standing, it looks likely that the tourists from the Emerald Island will be able to draw level the 2-Test Series 1-1.
New Zealand resuming at 66/4 this morning were quickly gifted a chance when Mathew Sinclair was dropped at gully on the first ball of the day. This seemed to set the tone for the morning as the Kiwis yet again seemed dumbfounded by ‘Malinga the Slinga” as he is affectionately known in these parts. Brendon McCullum the aggressive young wicketkeeper was repeatedly troubled by the shorter stuff Malinga had to offer, and ultimately – after one lusty flow on the fingers, was unable to keep wickets in Sri Lanka’s 2nd innings. Mathew Sinclair had to do the wicket keeping duties.
Daniel Vettori would consider himself to be the unluckiest Kiwi batsman after receiving an unplayable yorker in just the fourth delivery he had faced. Jacob Oram, James Franklin and Shane Bond all fell in quick succession, and all were adjudged leg before the wicket to the spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan. The champion off spinner ended up with figures 4 for 31 bowling into the stiff Wellington breeze. Malinga, who bowled unchanged along with Murali throughout the first session ended up with the spectacular figures of 5 for 70, his second five-wicket haul in tests. McCullum played a brave knock of 44 on essentially one leg after suffering a sprained ankle and the Kiwis ended with a dismal 130 all out in less that 40 overs.
With a lead of 138 in the bank, the Lankans got off to a fast start and at lunch were sitting pretty at 40/0. However Upul Tharanga was trapped in front by a Chris Martin gem and the first innings hero Kumar Sanagakkara holed out to deep point to bring the Kiwis back into it. Sanath Jayasuriya (31) followed in the next over and at 62/3 the game was in the balance. However, the resurrection was brought about first by captain Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Kapugedera, and later by the suddenly confident and enterprising Chamara Silva – playing in just his second test match of his career, and Sri Lanka were firmly in control at stumps on 225/5, a very handy lead of 363 with still 5 wickets in hand. Silva closed play on 79* and will be eyeing up his maiden test ton tomorrow morning while the Sri Lankan wicket keeper, Prassana Jayawardene was sitting not out on a well compiled 22. Daniel Vettori was the best of the Kiwi bowlers taking 3 wickets and after complaining of a lack of bowling prior to the test, he has bowled 45 overs in two days!
Everything to play for tomorrow, the Lankans will be looking to build their lead towards the 450 mark, and New Zealand knows they have their work cut out for them if they have any chance of winning this match, and hence the series. With three days still left in this encounter a result seems inevitable, which way it goes is very much up in the air.