New Zealand's Tim Southee bowls during the third day of the
second and final test cricket match against Sri Lanka in
Colombo. Photo by Reuters
There are many crucial periods in a cricket test, but the
first hour of play on day four of the second test between New
Zealand and Sri Lanka this afternoon looms as one of the most
New Zealand's chances of an elusive test victory rely heavily
on them breaking down Sri Lanka's stubborn resistance with a
couple of early wickets. If, however, the home side continue
to hold on the test could meander to an unsatisfying draw.
Sri Lanka will start day four on 225-6, with Thilan
Samaraweera on 76 and Suraj Randiv on a test-best 34, still
187 runs in arrears of New Zealand's first innings of 412.
Neither side has batted at a fast clip but there's still
enough time for the Black Caps to pick up a rare test win.
It would turn around a dreadful run of results, considering
they went into the match on the verge of a record-equalling
"It's a massive hour tomorrow morning and if we can pick up a
couple of wickets there and run through them early then who
knows?" New Zealand bowler Tim Southee said of their chances
of winning the test. "It's still in the balance and hopefully
we can make the most of the position we have them in."
Southee has bowled brilliantly throughout the series, and has
figures of 4-51 from Sri Lanka's innings on top of the four
he picked up in the first innings of the first test (he
didn't bowl in the second innings due to injury) and
career-best figures of 7-64 in the second test against India
in August. He's snared 16 wickets in his last three tests at
an average of 14.31 - his career average is 36.21.
"I am going through a period now where it's coming out nicely
and I'm managing to pick up some wickets but I think Trent
Boult has a massive part to play in that as well," said
Southee. "He's helped me out by building pressure at the
other end and I'm sure his turn is just around the corner."
Boult has bowled without much luck in recent times and even
yesterday saw a regulation catch from Tharanga Paranavitana
spilled by Ross Taylor at first slip. He's bowling with pace
and penetration but has picked up only eight wickets in his
last four tests.
The wicket has offered something for the new ball bowler but
is even-paced and comfortable for a batsman who can get
"The Sri Lanka run rate has been slower [than ours] so it
just shows you that if you bowl in good areas it's not that
easy to score," Southee said.
"It's definitely a new ball wicket. If you can grab a couple
with the new ball, it definitely makes it easier and you can
make in-roads into their batting lineup. Once the ball get's
older, it tends to flatten out a wee bit."
Spinners Jeetan Patel and Todd Astle have picked up only one
wicket between them in Sri Lanka's innings but could come
into play more if New Zealand can set the home side a testing
target on the fourth innings. The pitch is taking turn,
although it's slow turn, but Patel and Astle could expect the
wicket to deteriorate.