1st Test: New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Colombo
Reports from The Daily News
27-31 May 1998
Day 1: Spinners put Brakes on the Kiwis
by Sa'adi Thawfeeq
New Zealand coach Steve Rixon's boast of getting the Kiwis off to a
flying start like the Indians did to the Australians never
materialised as the Sri Lankan spinners led by Muthiah Muralitharan
put a break on their batting by capturing seven wickets for 282 runs
on the first day of the first Test played at the R. Premadasa Stadium
Only skipper Stephen Fleming and wicket-keeper Adam Parore crossed the
fifty mark, as Muralitharan with 3 for 87, Ruwan Kalpage with 2 for 49
and debutant Niroshan Bandaratilake with a first over wicket, kept the
free-scoring New Zealand batsmen in check, on a slow and grassless
New Zealand opted to bat first, after Fleming had called correctly,
but were pushed back by two short sharp showers in the first two
sessions that saw play go on till 6.30 pm yesterday.
Left-arm spinner Bandaratilake making his debut, became only the
fourth Sri Lankan bowler to take a wicket in his first over in Test
cricket when he dismissed Matthew Horne for 15. The New Zealand opener
was beaten by the arm ball that went straight through his defences
after he and Bryan Young had put on 25 for the first wicket.
It was Bandaratilake's fifth ball in the big league, and he joined
three other fast-medium bowlers who had made a memorable beginnings to
their Test careers - Saliya Ahangama who dismissed Mohamed Azharuddin
with his fourth ball at the Sara Stadium in 1985-86, Kosala
Kuruppuarachchi who dismissed Mudassar Nazar with his third ball at
the CCC grounds in 1985-86, and Dulip Liyanage who dismissed Tom Moody
with his third ball at the Sara Stadium in 1992-93.
Left-hander Fleming except for a rare blemish when he was almost
caught at short mid wicket by his vis-a-vis Arjuna Ranatunga at 31,
batted fluently to hit 12 fours in his score of 78 made in 218
minutes. It was his 17th Test fifty and his fourth against Sri Lanka.
After his dismissal at 188, Parore, who has been in good nick with the
bat on the tour, held the innings together in three late partnerships
with Chris Cairns and Chris Harris that raised the total by 81 runs.
Scoring off only the loose deliveries, Parore struck eight fours to
remain unbeaten on 67 at the close having batted 170 minutes, for his
11th fifty in Test cricket.
Nathan Astle and Chris Cairns were both out to poor shots attempting
to force the pace on the slow surface, while Young fell to a fine
diving catch taken off the inside edge by wicket-keeper Romesh
New Zealand suffered a double blow in the middle of their innings when
they lost Astle and Craig McMillan within three balls of each other.
Astle fell to a good running catch by Mahela Jayawardene at mid wicket
and McMillan was trapped lbw on the back foot.
Sri Lanka were rewarded with the wicket of Chris Harris late in the
day when they took the second new ball after 90 overs. Wickremasinghe
bowled a superb outswinger (inswinger to the left-hander) to have him
Day 2: Lanka's top order fails again
by Sa'adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka's top order batting which skipper Arjuna Ranatunga was
hoping would come good after the debacle in South Africa, failed once
again and they were left struggling at 251 for 7 wickets in reply to
New Zealand's 305 at the end of the second day of the first cricket
Test at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday.
The joy of Sri Lanka's ace spinner wrapping up the New Zealand first
innings with his 13th five-wicket haul in 39 Tests fizzled out inside
the first 40 minutes of the Sri Lankan first innings, when Chris
Cairns, who bowls very much less these days, because of a recurring
back injury, sent back Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu in his
opening spell of five overs.
Atapattu went without scoring after five balls, and Jayasuriya, whose
previous Test innings on this ground was a monumental 340 against
India last year, survived 19 balls for 10 runs. Both were caught at
the wicket by Adam Parore.
Mahela Jayawardene who has taken over the No. 3 position from Roshan
Mahanama batted authoritatively to complete his second Test fifty (his
first on debut was also made on this ground against India last year),
and in the process forge a useful third wicket stand of 80 with
Aravinda de Silva, before both were dismissed within four runs of each
De Silva made a passive 37 in 98 minutes before hitting a full toss
off part-time bowler Craig McMillan to mid-on. Jayewardene was also
caught in the same position when he mistimed an on-drive to provide
debutant off-spinner Paul Wiseman with his maiden Test wicket.
Skipper Arjuna Ranatunga and Romesh Kaluwitharana gave the innings
momentum with a 101-run fifth wicket stand, until Cairns returning for
a new spell separated them. Although their concentrations were
disturbed with a 49-minute break for rain, the pair batted well, till
Cairns induced Ranatunga into a false stroke. The left-hander was
bowled by a slow yorker for 49 scored with the help of one six and six
New Zealand came back after Ranatunga's dismissal to capture the
wickets of Ruwan Kalpage for six, and Kaluwitharana's for 72. Kalpage
was bowled around his legs by Wiseman, and Kaluwitharana, who had hit
13 fours in a stay of 149 minutes lost his cool and coming down the
track to Daniel Vettori, was beaten by the flight and bowled. At 64 he
completed 1,000 runs in Tests.
New Zealand's last three wickets added 23 runs before they were all
out having batted for 31 minutes. After Pramodya Wickremasinghe had
removed Adam Parore for 67 without any addition to the overnight total
of 282 for 7, with the delivery of the morning, Muralitharan cleaned
up the New Zealand tail with a spell of two wickets for one run off
six balls, to finish with figures of 5 for 90. Wiseman was unfortunate
to be given out when TV replays indicated that the ball had come off
his front pad to silly point fielder Marvan Atapattu. South African
umpire Rudi Koertzen consulted the third umpire to determine the
fairness of the catch, when the ball had not come off the bat.
Day 3: Fleming marvellous unbeaten 106
by Sa'adi Thawfeeq
The Sri Lanka Cricket Board chief curator's fear that the R. Premadasa
Stadium pitch would turn into a good batting track became a reality
when New Zealand buoyed by a marvellous unbeaten century by captain
Stephen Fleming took control of the first cricket Test against Sri
Lanka at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday.
Fleming overcame oppressive heat conditions