Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 14 October 2019

Akila Dananjaya on track for Perfect 10 even as New Zealand's Ross Taylor keeps Sri Lanka at bay

Spinner takes all five wickets to fall on rainy first day of first Test in Galle as Black Caps manage 203-5

Sri Lanka spinner Akila Dananjaya took five wickets with a remodelled action on Wednesday. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP
Sri Lanka spinner Akila Dananjaya took five wickets with a remodelled action on Wednesday. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP

Ross Taylor hit an unbeaten half-century to keep New Zealand afloat after Sri Lanka spinner Akila Dananjaya claimed five wickets on a rain-hit Day 1 of the first Test on Wednesday.

New Zealand were 203-5, having recovered from 71-3 at lunch, when rain stopped play for the day in the final session in Galle with Taylor batting on 86.

Dananjaya claimed his fourth five-wicket haul, bowling with a remodelled action after being reported for a suspect action last year.

The mystery spinner took three early wickets including captain Kane Williamson for nought before Taylor put on 100 runs for the fourth wicket with Henry Nicholls.

Dananjaya, who was overlooked for Tests in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, trapped Nicholls for 42 to break the century stand and then got BJ Watling for one to make New Zealand slip further.

"There's no drastic change to my action. I needed to change a few things and with the help of spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunga, I did the necessary changes," Dananjaya said. "I used to send videos to him to get more feedback and really happy with my action now."

Taylor handled pace and spin with aplomb as he registered his 31st Test fifty and had no problems resisting Dananjaya, who mixed up his deliveries to outfox the batsmen. Taylor registered the highest score by a Kiwi batsman in a Test match at Galle, surpassing the 69 by Tim McIntosh. New Zealand have struggled at this venue having lost all three previous Tests.

New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor was batting on 86 at stumps on Day 1 of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP
New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor was batting on 86 at stumps on Day 1 of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP

“They were tough at times. The ball certainly spun a little earlier than we thought, but we expected it to be turning," Nicholls said of the Galle wicket.

"If we can get some partnerships first through Mitch and Ross but also through the lower order with the tail – all those innings are going to be valuable when the wicket does get tougher to bat on."

Earlier, openers Jeet Raval and Tom Latham put on 64 runs before Dananjaya struck on a pitch that is already offering big turn. Latham was the first to go after being caught behind for 30 as Dananjaya got the left-handed batsman to poke at a delivery that was turning away.

Williamson fell three balls later when he flicked one straight into the hands of his opposite number Dimuth Karunaratne at short mid-wicket.

In the last over before lunch, Raval failed to pick a googly and was caught at first slip by Dhananjaya de Silva for 33.

Both Sri Lanka and New Zealand are playing their first match of the World Test Championship, which has nine top teams competing for supremacy in the five-day format.

Play was stopped at 3.42 pm local time (1.12pm UAE) due to rain and half an hour later was called off with 22 overs lost in the day. Play will resume early on Thursday.

Updated: August 14, 2019 06:06 PM

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