2nd Test: Sri Lanka v New Zealand at Kandy, 3-7 May 2003
The Wisden Bulletin by Charlie Austin

1st Innings - New Zealand: Close - Day 2,

For five sessions they lazed in their hotel, looking forward to the chance to win their first series in Sri Lanka for two decades, as an army of groundstaff mopped up a waterlogged outfield with hand sponges and scraped away the mud with cardboard flaps. But when play did finally begin, New Zealand were left wishing it hadn’t. Sri Lanka’s new-ball bowlers grabbed the early advantage to reduce New Zealand to 75 for 4 at the close of play.

Chaminda Vaas, swinging the new ball off a shortened run-up, grabbed two early wickets and Prabath Nissanka, extracting some pace and skidding bounce from the bone-dry surface, snared the key wicket of Stephen Fleming for a duck to leave New Zealand precariously placed on 11 for 3 after just seven overs.

Mark Richardson, having recovered from the hamstring injury that had forced him down the order in the second innings of the first Test in Colombo, steadied the innings with a 60-run partnership with Scott Styris. Then Muttiah Muralitharan struck with a late wicket, and Sri Lanka were in charge.

Jacob Oram survived until the close with Richardson, who was unbeaten on 32 from 62 balls, with five fours to his name.

New Zealand were soon in trouble after winning the toss and electing to bat first. Unfortunately, the footwork of Matt Horne betrayed a lethargic week without proper practice as Vaas tempted him into an ill-advised poke at a wide delivery in the third over of the innings (6 for 1).

An over later, Nissanka burst the bubble of immortality that has hung around Fleming, who had piled up 343 runs in the first test without losing his wicket. Nissanka sneaked a straight delivery through a lazy leg-side waft and won a leg-before decision from Simon Taufel (7 for 2).

Mathew Sinclair then made a gross error of judgment, deciding to shoulder arms to a delivery that curved into his pads. Sinclair left the field shaking his head in annoyance as Daryl Harper upheld Vaas’s imploring appeal (11 for 3).

With Fleming already back in the pavilion, Hashan Tillakaratne rushed Muralitharan into the fray – a decision that raised predictable cheers from his hometown supporters who had seen him claim nine wickets in an innings in his last outing on the ground against Zimbabwe in 2002.

Richardson and Styris kept Muralitharan, who had been forced to toil surprisingly hard for his five wickets in Colombo, at bay for a while. Concentrating on survival, the pair collected most of their runs in singles against the spinners, although Styris was able to clip two early leg-side boundaries off Muralitharan.

Minutes before bad light was offered, Styris, who had been fortunate to survive a leg-before appeal from Nissanka on 30, was adjudged to have been caught at silly point. Harper detected a faint edge onto his pad that television replays were unable to confirm. Styris had scored 32 from 62 balls (71 for 4).

Earlier in the afternoon, both sides had elected to field unchanged teams for the deciding match of the series, keeping faith with the same players that had struggled through the sweltering heat in Colombo to draw the dreary first Test. This one promised to be more eventful.

© Wisden CricInfo

Date-stamped : 04 May2003 - 15:53