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09-Mar-2023 16:04:00 GMT
NZ vs SL - 1st Test, Christchurch, day 1

Mendis, Karunaratne give Sri Lanka a strong start

Sri Lanka 305 for 6 (Mendis 87, Karunaratne 50, Southee 3-44) vs New Zealand

Christchurch: Veteran batter Angelo Mathews overtook former skipper Sanath Jayasuriya and became just the third Sri Lankan player to have scored 7000 Test runs as the island nation made a good start to the first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.

Mathews scored a valuable 47 on the opening day at Hagley Oval, with Sri Lanka reaching 305/6 at stumps to keep their slim hopes alive of reaching June's ICC World Test Championship final against Australia.

Sri Lanka need to clinch a 2-0 series sweep over the Kiwis in New Zealand and rely on India not defeating Australia in the concurrent Test in Ahmedabad to reach the World Test Championship decider and they gave themselves every chance of doing so on Thursday after they were sent into bat first by Black Caps captain Tim Southee.

Southee dismissed Oshada Fernando in the seventh over to give the hosts the early ascendancy, only to have Kusal Mendis (87) and opposing skipper Dimuth Karunaratne (50) take the momentum back with a century stand for the second wicket.

Southee (3/44) trapped Mendis lbw just as the pint-sized batter was closing in on an eighth Test century and Karunaratne followed in the ensuing over as New Zealand fought back hard.

But Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal (39) combined for an 82-run stand of their own, with the former going past Jayasuriya's Test total of 6973 runs before being dismissed by Matt Henry just after bringing up his 7000th Test run.

Southee also picked up his own milestone during the day, with the right-armer drawing level with former spinner Daniel Vettori and becoming New Zealand's highest wicket-taker in Test history behind Sir Richard Hadlee (431) with 362 Test scalps.

Dhananjaya de Silva (39*) and Kasun Rajitha (16*) put on some further late runs for Sri Lanka as light faded late in the day, with the duo to return to the crease on the second day and sure to be keen to add further runs to press home their advantage.

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