x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sangakkara in form again for Sri Lanka

Kumar Sangakkara hits an unbeaten half-century as Sri Lanka turn the screw on New Zealand on day three of the second Test in Colombo.

Sri Lanka will start the fourth day of their final Test against New Zealand today with a commanding lead of 399 runs and eight wickets in hand after rain stopped play . Heavy showers in Colombo cut the match short by 12.4 overs, but not before Sri Lanka seized control over their visitors. Captain Kumar Sangakkara hit a second successive half-century, his 33rd in Test matches, with an unbeaten 64 from 90 balls. The elegant left-hander, ranked the No 2 batsman in the world in the ICC rankings, brought up his fifty in style, hitting a straight six off the bowling of spinner Jeetan Patel. His total included seven fours and a six in an unbroken partnership of 68 with Mahela Jayawardene, who scored 23 not out. The pair steered the home side to 157 for two in their second innings at Sinhalese Sports Club in, building on a 182-run first innings lead after the Black Caps were bowled out for 234 shortly before lunch. Tillakaratne Dilshan, the dashing opening batsman, and Tharanga Paranavitana got Sri Lanka off to a flying start with a stand of 56 runs before both fell in the middle session. Dilshan, who had scored 92 and 123 not out in Sri Lanka's first Test win, made 33 before being caught at long-on by Martin Guptill off Patel. Paranavitana was unfortunate to be given out caught behind by wicket-keeper Brendan McCullum off Daniel Vettori, the captain, for 34 in the penultimate over before tea as the replays showed the ball made no contact with Paranavitana's bat. Spinners Rangana Herath and Muttiah Muralitharan combined to share six wickets in the morning session, as the New Zealand, resuming on 159 for five, lost their remaining wickets for 75 runs. Muralitharan finished with three for 71, taking his record tally to 780 wickets, Herath contributed three for 70 while seamer, Thilan Thushara claimed two for 37. New Zealand's Ross Taylor and McCullum added 24 runs to the overnight score before being dismissed in successive overs. The wicket-keeper was caught at slip by Jayawardene off Muralitharan, a dismissal which saw Jaywardene claim his 150th Test catch. Taylor, who stood firm through three appeals for lbw, made 81 before wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene caught him off Herath. "I feel we are in a good position at the moment," said Herath. "If we score 400 plus we have a chance to win." Taylor, meanwhile felt his side have a mountain to climb. "We needed someone to go on and get a big score," he said. "We are good 150 runs short." The size of the task facing New Zealand is evidenced by the fact that the last side to win at the Sinhalese Sports Club were Australia in 2004. * With agencies