COLOMBO // Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath claimed four wickets as Sri Lanka moved within sight of victory on day four of the second Test against New Zealand in Colombo. Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara had hit a superb 109 and Mahela Jayawardene made 96 as the home side declared their second innings on 311 for five, leaving New Zealand a target of 494 to level the series. Herath then left the visitors' top order in familiar disarray, claiming the wickets of Martin Guptill (28), Ross Taylor (27), Daniel Flynn (50) and Jesse Ryder (38), while Muttiah Muralitharan and fast bowler Dammika Prasad snared a wicket each. The Black Caps reached 182 for six at stumps, still needing 312 for an unlikely win. New Zealand's openers had made a slow start until Prasad secured the first breakthrough by bowling Tim McIntosh.
McIntosh had made just seven when he shouldered arms to Prasad, only for the delivery to nip back in and peg back off stump. Herath, introduced into the attack in the 15th over, then struck with his first ball to remove Guptill. The opener had looked good during his brief stay, striking four boundaries, but feathered an edge to wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene. Flynn and Taylor then briefly held up Sri Lanka's charge with a 56-run stand for the third wicket until Herath dismissed Taylor. Taylor had shown positive intent, hitting Herath for consecutive boundaries early in his innings, but the spinner got his revenge, drawing an outside edge which was caught by Jayawardene at slip.
Flynn reached his fourth Test half-century, and his first away from home, but fell in the next over when he was trapped lbw. Brendon McCullum was dropped in the deep by Thilan Thushara in the same over, but soon went, dragging a delivery from Muralitharan back onto his stumps. Ryder, dropped on seven by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, had battled hard for his 38 but fell with just under two overs remaining in the day, trapped lbw attempting to sweep Herath. Herath finished with excellent figures of four for 73 from 21 overs. Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene narrowly missed out on a century yet again, his dismissal leading to Sri Lanka's declaration after lunch.
Resuming on 157 for two, Jayawardene gave his side early impetus, charging down the track and hitting off-spinner Jeetan Patel for a straight six in the first over of the day. Sangakkara was slow out of the blocks but was just as destructive as his innings progressed. He struck Ryder for consecutive boundaries and reached his century ? the 20th of his career ? by driving Patel through the covers for three. However, he fell shortly after attempting to force the pace, ending a 173-run stand for the third wicket. He charged down the track to Patel but managed only an outside edge which flew to Taylor. Jayawardene was on 90 at the lunch interval and had added six more in slow fashion after play resumed when he fell to Iain O'Brien. Bowling with the second new ball, O'Brien induced the edge which was neatly grasped by Taylor and Sangakkara enforced the declaration immediately.
* PA Sport