Ajaz Patel’s five-for keeps New Zealand in the hunt

New Zealand

New Zealand 249 (Taylor 86, Dananjaya 5-80, Lakmal 4-29) v Sri Lanka

The lower half of New Zealand’s batting order unravelled dramatically on the morning of day two, with the wicket of Ross Taylor setting in motion a collapse that cost them five wickets for 44 runs. Seam bowler Suranga Lakmal claimed all but one of those wickets, dismissing Taylor with his first ball of the morning, before going on to deliver a 5.2-over spell that yielded 4 for 15.

The visitors had been well-placed to push for a total in the range of 300 – Taylor resuming his innings at 86, with Mitchell Santner for company, and an industrious tail to come. But they could muster only 249 in the end, which could yet turn out to be a competitive total, given the treacherous nature of the Galle surface. But it is not the commanding total they would have hoped for.

Taylor had batted chancelessly through much of day one’s play, and it was on him that New Zealand’s hopes of a big total rested. But he could not negotiate the first ball he faced on Thursday. Attempting a cut shot to a short-of-a-length ball close to his body, he supplied a straightforward edge to the wicketkeeper. Santner didn’t last the first half hour either, shouldering arms to an indipper that would have gone on to clip the stumps.

Only Trent Boult, from among the tailenders, provided any sort of resistance. He hit a six and a four on his way to 18 off 22 balls. He eventually holed out trying to hit Lakmal for another six down the ground, before No. 11 Ajaz Patel was out lbw first ball, attempting a legside flick. New Zealand’s innings was wrapped up soon after drinks.

In some ways, day two’s unravelling was the continuation of a collapse that had begun just before tea on day one. New Zealand had been 171 for 3 at one stage, before they lost their last seven wickets for 78 runs. There were only two partnerships worth more than 50 in the innings – the openers making 64 together, before Taylor and Henry Nicholls put on 100 for the fourth wicket.

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