Monday, 6 December 2021

Boult puts New Zealand on track for series win vs Sri Lanka

CHRISTCHURCH: After all the good work on the opening day of the second Test, that gave Sri Lanka hope of sealing an away series win in New Zealand, they saw their dreams come crashing down on the second day in Christchurch.

It all happened rather rapidly, in fact just 15 deliveries as Trent Boult snatched the advantage from them and pinned them on the mat. It took a career-best effort from the pacer – where he picked 6 for 30 – to stun the visitors. Having started the day on 88 for 4, Sri Lanka folded for 104 with all six wickets going to Boult. The New Zealand top three then put on a clinical show as they took the team to 231 for 2 and stretched the lead to 305 at stumps.

The nightmarish start to the day had a lasting impact as Sri Lanka never really recovered from the early assault. While the conditions played a part, it was also because of poor application from the batsmen. Jeet Raval, Tom Latham and Kane Williamson himself then put on a masterclass to show how Sri Lanka really needed to bat. Roshen Silva’s wicket started the collapse when he was sucked into playing at a wide one and was caught at third slip. Niroshan Dickwella’s aggressive approach was good enough for just one boundary before he too edged one to slip.

At 100 for 6, and with the ball doing plenty, Sri Lanka’s tail had little chance. Boult trapped the last four batsmen in front even before they could open their account. From 94 for 5, they were all out for 104. New Zealand had a handy lead of 74 and weren’t going to let the advantage slip. Raval and Latham had a few lucky escapes but weren’t pegged down by that. After making an extremely cautious start, where they scored just 18 in the first ten overs, they eased into their innings. At Lunch, New Zealand were 36 for no loss. The second session saw the opening duo battle the moving ball and played out a wicketless session to add to the frustration of Dinesh Chandimal & Co. who saw their series win slip away.

They finally managed to break the 121-run opening stand when Perera got one to take the inside edge of Raval’s bat and land with forward short leg. If Sri Lanka were hoping for any respite, Williamson nullified the impact of the wicket with some positive batting. He raised a 68-run stand with Latham as New Zealand marched towards 200. Williamson fell with eight overs to go in the day but he himself had a role to play in it. A loose shot to an innocuous Lahiru Kumara delivery meant the edge was caught at slips. The wickets, however, came a little too late for Sri Lanka. The lead was already past 250 and their confidence had already taken a severe beating.

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