Black Caps hit back on disrupted opening day

The Black Caps celebrate the wicket of Lahiru Thirimanne. Photo: Getty Images
The Black Caps celebrate the wicket of Lahiru Thirimanne. Photo: Getty Images
The Black Caps were frustrated first by the weather, then Sri Lanka's batsmen, as they battled through a tough opening session in the second test in Colombo.

As for the second session? Well, the weather was still frustrating, but their performance less so, as a key wicket put the visitors back into a reasonable position, with Sri Lanka at 85-2 when play was called off for bad light.

After waiting nearly four hours for the skies to clear and the ground to dry at P Sara Oval, the Black Caps lost the toss, and then saw Sri Lanka's batsmen start turn good fortune into good results to reach 71-1 at tea.

The early returns would have been more frustrating than the wait to get underway, as the Black Caps seam bowlers saw a slew of edges slither through the slips cordon, none of them going to hand, as Dimuth Karunaratne (49 not out) and Kusal Mendis (32) put the hosts in a strong starting position.

Karunaratne — as he often does — lived dangerously early on, on a pitch which offered early movement before slowly favouring the batsmen as the session progressed. Karunaratne had three shots run away through the slips for four — saved by his soft hands — and survived a decent lbw shout which was shown to be going over the stumps.

One of those streaky boundaries came from the bowling of Colin de Grandhomme, who was brought in for the wicketless Mitchell Santner in a solitary change to the side who lost the opening test, but de Grandhomme did a good job of restricting runs, as did spinner Will Somerville, who eventally found the breakthrough.

Lahiru Thirimanne had been toiling away for an hour, making just two runs, when a slower delivery from Somerville fooled the opener into popping up the easiest of catches for Kane Williamson at short cover.

De Grandhomme then extended his value when play resumed after another delay after tea. A brief burst of rain cleared to allow 7.3 overs before bad light stopped proceedings, but de Grandhomme claimed the valuable wicket of Mendis in that spell, with nagging line and length and a touch of away seam movement enough to draw Mendis forward, and provide a thin edge through to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

Seamers sent down all bar nine of the 36.3 overs managed on day one on a wicket that offers slightly more to pace bowlers than the pitch in the Galle, but is still expected to produce serious turn late in the test — a trait that could be potentially problematic for the Black Caps batsmen in the fourth innings.

They won't have to deal with the spinner that destroyed their top order in the first innings of the first test, however, with Akila Dananjaya left out of Sri Lanka's side after he was reported for having a suspect bowling action in the first test.

He would still have been able to bowl in the second test before being required to undergo testing, but having already failed a biomechanic test once when his action was deemed to be illegal last December, Sri Lanka opted for the returning veteran Dilruwan Perera as their lead spin option.

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