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|Colin de Grandhomme||71||45||6||2||157.78|
|Colin de Grandhomme||10.0||1||23||0||2.30|
|Colin de Grandhomme||1||5||0||0||20.00|
|Colin de Grandhomme||6.0||0||19||1||3.17|
New Zealand's terrific exhibition of batting and all the hopes of a win were washed away by Angelo Mathews' and Kusal Mendis' grit and determination and of course the inclement weather conditions. Despite getting a humungous first innings lead, the Kiwis had to stay content with a draw. They'll have yet another opportunity to have a go at the visitors when the two teams meet to play the second test of the series at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch on the Boxing Day, 26th December. Considering the fight that the tourists exhibited on the match-day, they're expected to go into the second match with a lot higher confidence and the Kiwis will certainly not want to be complacent against a team which denied them an almost-certain win in the opening encounter.
The surface at Wellington in the first test went from being spicy on the first two days to a harmless slow-turner in the third and fourth days which resulted in a rather damp draw. However, we are likely to see a surface which will be more bowler friendly as said by the Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson.
On a lively first day wicket, New Zealand bowlers exploited the conditions well and dismissed three Sri Lankans batsmen quickly before they recovered a tad with the pitch easing up. Tim Southee was the pick of the bowlers for the hosts in the first innings as he picked six scalps for 68 runs in his 27 overs. Trent Boult and Neil Wagner picked up one and two wickets respectively.
There were talks of Matt Henry being included for the second test, but with the trio of Southee, Boult, and Wagner having enough time to recover from fatigue, he is likely to warm the bench yet again. If the management does decide to give him a go, it will be at the expense of Neil Wagner who looked ineffective in the first test.
While it was all about Tim Southee with the red cherry, their batting mainly revolved around Tom Latham who carried his bat. He played a marathon knock of 264 and spent 694 minutes at the crease. There were contributions from the batsmen right through their batting order with the exception of Ben Watling to failed to trouble the scorers.
Kane Williamson narrowly missed a century as he was dismissed for 91 after playing an uncharacteristically quick 91-run knock. Taylor and Nicholls contributed with a fifty each while Grandhomme contributed with quick-fire 49 as the Kiwis extended their first innings lead.
All the efforts of the first three days were washed out as the Kiwi bowlers tried almost every possible tactic, but could not pick any more than three Sri Lankan wickets in the second innings. In the Islanders' second innings, Boult and Southee were the only successful bowlers. Ajaz Patel was economical, but Wagner could neither pick wickets nor contain the tourists as he went for over four runs an over in his 23 overs combined.
Although the Kiwis were clearly the better side of the two in the recently concluded test, their failure to force a win raised a lot of questions. They already have an excellent in-form batting lineup and the quick surface at Christchurch will most likely provide their bowlers with the lost fire they lacked in the second innings at Wellington.
Jeet Raval, TWM Latham, KS Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, TG Southee, N Wagner, Ajaz Patel, TA Boult.
Thanks to the marathon innings by Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis, Sri Lanka's performance was certainly one of the greatest performances by the Islanders in overseas conditions.
Sri Lanka commenced their second innings with a mountain of runs to climb to avoid an innings defeat. Considering the way they played in the first innings, it was hard to imagine them avoiding the innings defeat, let alone deny hosts a victory especially after they were three down at stumps on the third day.
Although rain helped them to secure a draw, the pair of Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews looked determined as ever on day five as well as they played out half of the first session rather easily before rain intervened. Even on day four, both these batsmen appeared to be playing a different level and the kind of patience and grit exhibited by the duo was commendable.
In addition to the second innings heroics from Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis, the fifties from Dimuth Karunaratne and Niroshan Dickewlla played a vital role in extending Sri Lanka's total in the first innings. Mathews contributed in the first innings as he was dismissed for a well-made 83.
While their batsmen did put up a pretty good effort in denying Kiwis a victory in the first test, their bowling looked toothless. Although the surface eased up by the time Kiwis came into the bat, Sri Lankan bowlers could never really trouble the Kiwi batsmen. Lahiru Kumara was their most influential bowler, but he, too, conceded 127 runs for his four wickets.
All in all, Sri Lanka did pretty well in the opening test as compared to how they fared against England at home. However, they still have plenty of issues to address which the Kiwis will be keen to exploit in the second match. Their bowlers were largely indisciplined in the first match and leaked runs which never allowed them to build pressure. They'd also be hoping for Gunathilaka and Dananjaya de Silva to spend some more time in the middle in the second game so that their middle-order does not have to come in and face red cherry on a lively surface. If they can do that, they certainly have the firepower to challenge even the best on their day.
Danushka Gunathilaka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Roshen Silva, Kusal Mendis , Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, PVD Chameera.
With the surface likely to be conducive to fast bowling and overhead conditions forecasted to be overcast, none of the captains will want to bat first here. Bowling first will be the preferred decision of the team winning the toss.
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The surface at the Christchurch will offer more pace and bounce as compared to the one it was at Wellington. It is also likely to hold it's pace for much longer duration, unlike the first match where the pitch almost went dead towards the fag end of the match. Although the rain is likely to stay away in the last three days of the test match, we might see it affecting the game in the first six sessions. An overcast sky and the quick surface will make it tough for the batsmen on the first couple of days and anything in excess of 320 will be a good total batting first.
With surface likely to be a bit quicker and conducive to bowlers in the second match, the first couple of days in the test match will be of huge significance. It's forecasted to be an overcast sky on Wednesday and Thursday to make things difficult for the batsmen. Sri Lankan top-order has failed consistently in all of their recent matches and it's expected to be yet another tough outing for their top-three. New Zealand have a better bowling attack which will be tough to deal with in bowling-friendly conditions. Although the possibility of a draw cannot be ruled out, a New Zealand win is the most likely outcome of the upcoming fixture.
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