By Amindha de Alwis
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne stroked a watchful unbeaten 49 as Sri Lanka went into stumps on 85 for the loss of two wickets on a rain-hit opening day to the second Test match against New Zealand at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo yesterday.
Only 36.3 overs of play were possible owing to inclement weather which was responsible for a complete washout of the morning session followed by a further interruption later in the day. Sri Lanka who won the toss and elected to bat first under cloudy skies, chose to include fit-again off spinner Dilruwan Perera in their starting XI in place of Akila Dananjaya.
The visitors opted to replace Mitchell Santner who played in Galle, with Colin de Grandhomme.
The Sri Lankan openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne who came out to bat at 1.40 p.m. were able to successfully negotiate the opening burst from Trent Boult and Tim Southee. The two quicks who ran riot when these two sides last played a Test at this same venue in 2012, with a combined 15 wickets in that game, were kept quiet despite a few edges sneaking down to the third man boundary early on.
Karunaratne picked up a few boundaries in the opening hour while Thirimanne was content to block most of the deliveries he faced. The introduction of Will Somerville in the 13th over nearly brought immediate success for New Zealand when he produced an edge off Thirimanne’s bat, only for wicket-keeper B. J. Watling to put down the first real opportunity of the afternoon.
Thirimanne however, failed to capitalise on his reprieve and ended up spooning a simple catch to Kane Williamson at short-cover in Somerville’s next over.
Thirimanne’s dismissal for a 35-ball two runs brought Kusal Mendis to the crease amid a nagging spell of bowling from Colin De Grandhomme.
The two batsmen fought their way through a tricky period of play and eventually picked up the pace with both players appearing steadily more comfortable towards the end of the afternoon session. The start of the evening session saw a 30-minute delay due to a passing spell of rain. The halt in play had no effect on Karunaratne however, who drove Southee for a majestic four as soon as play resumed.
The pair brought up their 50-run partnership in the third over after the break but de Grandhomme manage to coax an outside edge from Mendis soon after, to dismiss him for 32.
Karunaratne took his score up to 49 in the company of Angelo Mathews before bad light stopped play at 5.00 p.m.
Colin de Grandhomme, speaking at the end of play on the conditions on offer said, “It’s not doing too much at the moment.”
“Hopefully tomorrow we can get some early swing and get a couple of wickets early. The pitch has a little bit more bounce than Galle, but not too much. It’s still a little bit slow.”