New Zealand 178 and 36 for 0 lead Sri Lanka 104 (Mathews 33, Boult 6-30, Southee 3-33) by 110 runs
With a 20-minute spell of sublime late swing, Trent Boult has put New Zealand into the ascendancy on the second morning Hagley Oval, uprooting six Sri Lanka wickets in the space of 15 balls. Boult’s mastery established a commanding 74-run first-innings lead, before Jeet Raval and Tom Latham put New Zealand a further 36 runs ahead by lunch, seeing out 17 overs without loss.
Sri Lanka had begun the day 100 runs adrift, with hopes of edging ahead in the first session, but in losing their remaining wickets in the first nine overs of the day, they have nosedived catastrophically instead, and now find themselves in a desperate situation. Only their best batsman of the series ,Angelo Mathews, was capable of resisting Boult for any length of time, remaining not out on 33 off 88 balls, having made just six runs in the morning.
Boult had been sublime from the outset on day two, regularly threatening to swing a ball between right-hander Roshen Silva’s bat and pad, but it was in his fourth over that the breakthroughs began to come. Roshen was caught at third slip driving loosely at a full delivery angled across him, to end Sri Lanka’s best partnership of the innings – his 43-run stand with Mathews.
In his next over, Boult’s swing, which went from right to left (in to the right hander, away from the lefties) was irresistible. Niroshan Dickwella drove at a ball that curved dramatically away from him at the last moment, with Tim Southee diving across from third slip to complete a spectacular one-handed catch.
The remaining dismissals were all lbws – each of them plumb. Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara all either left or missed deliveries they had been convinced were heading down the leg side, only for each of those wicket balls to change course fast and late, to hit each of them in front of middle stump.
The only confident stroke right through that 12-ball passage in which five wickets fell, was Chameera’s blocking out of a hat-trick ball, after Perera and Lakmal had fallen to consecutive deliveries to end the previous over. Southee did his part to support Boult, not only in taking two catches at third slip, but in ensuring that Mathews remained off strike for the start of what turned out to be Boult’s final over of the innings.
There was movement off the seam for Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara when New Zealand’s openers began their second innings, but the Sri Lankan quicks did not manage the kind of sudden movement in the air that Boult had found earlier in the day, which only served to illustrate how skilful that burst from Boult had really been. Both Latham and Raval played and missed regularly against the new ball, but avoided playing the kinds of loose drives that had brought the downfall of several Sri Lanka batsmen.
The New Zealand openers were so watchful early that it was not until the eighth over that the first boundary of the session was struck – Raval flicking an overpitched Kumara delivery past midwicket for four. That was the only boundary until the 15th over. In nine overs of extremely fast work with the ball, and 17 overs of slow going with the bat, New Zealand have gained substantial control of this game, and have perhaps produced the definitive session of the series.