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Chandimal and Matthews want to build on their strong starts

Dinesh Chandimal

New Zealand scored twice in a short amount of time, but not before Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne, each hit a half-century as part of a 137-run partnership for the second wicket. Sri Lanka went to tea on the first day of the match at Hagley Oval in Christchurch with a score of 209 for 3. Both Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal were steady with scores of 28 and 24.

After a fast-paced second hour of play, which was helped by Mendis’s attack and put the visitors at 120 for 1 at lunch, the first few minutes of the second session were much the same. The seamers were making the ball move. Even though Mendis missed a few shots, he didn’t hold back on the attack.

Karunaratne got to his 32nd Test fifty by taking advantage of the mistakes the New Zealand pacers made with their lengths. Mendis’s aggressive play helped him keep going. The batters were squared up and hit several times, but they kept going through the hard times with courage until Tim Southee’s inswinging ball caught Mendis’s leg before on ball number 87. Mendis had tried to review the batter before and failed, so this time he decided not to. Soon, Karunaratne, too, was sent back. When Matt Henry hit a drive, the extra bounce caught the outside edge of the southpaw’s bat and went right to second slip Tom Latham.
During the first part of their time in the middle, Chandimal and Mathews didn’t have it easy. A few throws got close to the edge but landed in safe places. They were also hit often, and the middle looked like it hurt. A few close-leg before appeals, a mix-up in the middle, and a confident review for caught behind were turned down.

Still, as the game went on and the ball got a little bit older, it got easier to score runs. A short break in the rain might have helped. Before Tea, the two batsmen played together for 58 runs without getting out. Chandimal ended the session by hitting three consecutive fours in the last over, one over the slip cordon, one past mid-off, and one through the cover.

New Zealand won the toss and chose to field early in the day. Even though the moving ball was hard on Sri Lanka’s openers, the first wicket of the day was taken in the seventh over by a delivery down the leg side. Southee passed the ball to Oshada Fernando, who knocked it straight to the keeper on 13.

Mendis, on the other hand, didn’t slow down when things got hard. He went on the offensive, and after a bit of luck helped him get a few boundaries off the edges, he drove the ball beautifully, getting 15 boundaries in the morning session and making the New Zealand pacers nervous.

Neil Wagner tried to test the batter by throwing short-pitched balls, but it didn’t work, and he was hit for 30 runs in his first three overs. Southee and Tickner were treated the same way: they each gave up three runs in an over.

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