NZ vs SL, 1st Test: Mendis-Karunaratne stand drives visitors forward
Sri Lanka were in the driving seat on Day 1 of the 1st Test against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch. They finished with 305/6 after the Kiwis put them in to bat. Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis starred with half-centuries, while Dhananjaya de Silva and Kasun Rajitha returned unbeaten. Tim Southee took three wickets for the hosts.
A look at Day 1 summary
Sri Lanka had a patchy start as they lost opener Oshada Fernando. However, Karunaratne and Mendis added 137 runs for the second wicket. However, they couldn't complete Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews took over thereafter, taking SL past the 230-run mark. Southee and Matt Henry removed the duo in quick succession, while Michael Bracewell dismissed Niroshan Dickwella. SL were 305-6 at stumps.
A counter-attacking knock by Mendis
Top-order batter Mendis counter-attacked after SL lost Fernando early. He raced to his half-century in the 22nd over off just 40 balls. Mendis slammed an 83-ball 87, a knock laced with 16 fours. It was his 16th half-century in Test cricket and a third against New Zealand. Mendis has raced to 3,489 Test runs from 55 matches at an average of 34.89.
A watchful knock by the SL skipper
While Mendis attacked the bowlers, Karunaratne played a rather watchful knock. He led from the front with a 50-run knock that came off 87 deliveries (7 fours). The Sri Lankan skipper completed his 32nd half-century in the longest format (fifth against New Zealand). Karunaratne now has 6,073 runs from 83 matches at an average of 39.69.
Mathews, Chandimal took SL forward
Mathews and Chandimal kept Sri Lanka afloat after they lost Mendis and Karunaratne. Mathews smashed a 98-ball 47, while Chandimal scored 39(64). As stated, Dhananjaya de Silva (39*) and Rajitha (16*) returned unbeaten at stumps.
What about the bowlers?
Captain Southee was the pick of New Zealand's bowlers on Day 1. He took three wickets for 44 runs in 18 overs, including eight maidens. The right-arm seamer now has 362 wickets from 93 Tests. Meanwhile, Henry took two wickets for 65 runs in 20 overs (six maidens). Bracewell chipped in with the crucial wicket of Dickwella.