Published:  01:13 AM, 16 August 2019

Ajaz Patel's fifer leads NZ fightback

Ajaz Patel's fifer leads NZ fightback New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel celebrates with teammates after taking a wicket against hosts Sri Lanka in Galle on Thursday. -Collected

A maiden five-wicket haul from left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel helped New Zealand restrict Sri Lanka to 227/7 on day two of the first Test, 22 runs adrift of their first innings total.

Patel's scalps included Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, half-centurions Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews, as well as Lahiru Thirimanne and Dhananjaya de Silva. Sri Lanka ended the day with Suranga Lakmal (28), their hero from the first innings, and Niroshan Dickwella (39) at the crease.

Earlier in the day, Lakmal claimed four quick scalps to help skittle out New Zealand for 249. Ross Taylor was unable to add to his overnight tally of 86* and fell to Lakmal off the first delivery he faced in the morning. His partner, Mitchell Santner, resisted for 41 balls before being trapped lbw by Lakmal in the 73rd over.

The rest of the visiting lineup was out within the next 10 overs, as Lakmal looked sharp through the second morning. His delivery to Taylor was the best of the lot; pitched right outside the off stump, the bounce on it caught Taylor by surprise as he failed to execute his signature cut shot.

The right-hander's dismissal was the beginning of the unravelling for New Zealand, as the visitors slipped from 205/5 to 249 all out.

The Sri Lankan innings started with the openers exercising caution, with Tim Southee and Trent Boult bowling with speed and accuracy on a surface that didn't offer much. However, in an attempt to break the shackles, Thiirimane decided to go after Patel but missed the ball completely and was stumped by BJ Watling. Karunaratne added 39 runs with Mendis, but never looked settle through his innings.

He was finally dismissed by Patel for 39 after a gruelling 73 deliveries. The partnership between Mendis and Mathews was Sri Lanka's best period with the bat: they added 77 runs for the third wicket and looked settled at the crease.

However, after the duo's dismissal, the Sri Lankan middle-order struggled to cope with New Zealand's disciplined attack. Kusal Perera and de Silva were dismissed for single-digit scores, and William Somerville sent back Danajaya for a duck. New Zealand looked set to cut through Sri Lanka before Dickwella and Lakmal launched their resistance.


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