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New Zealand takes lead



HIGH ON ENERGY: New Zealand's James Franklin makes an acrobatic attempt to field off his own bowling against Sri Lanka on the fourth day. — AP

NAPIER, APRIL 7. Unconventional fast bowler Lasith Malinga struck twice in fading light on Thursday to leave New Zealand 64 for two at stumps and leading Sri Lanka by 127 runs with a day remaining in the first cricket Test.

Sri Lanka's tail buckled in the session between lunch and tea, when five wickets fell for 45 runs, to end its first innings at 498 and give New Zealand a 63-run first-innings lead.

A draw seemed inevitable as Sri Lanka reached 453 for five by lunch Thursday to trail New Zealand's first innings of 561 by only 108 runs. By that stage, more than 1,000 runs had been scored in 10 sessions and only 15 wickets had fallen.

New Zealand raced through Sri Lanka's lower order in a little more than 90 minutes before tea to give itself a small amount of leverage to seek an outright result on the final day.

Chris Martin and James Franklin found reverse swing with the older ball and both finished with four wickets from long and tiring spells — Martin at a cost of 132 runs and Franklin for 126.

Mahela Jayawardene had taken his overnight score from 118 to 141 and Thilan Samaraweera had gone from 31 to 88 to boost Sri Lanka's effort to equal or better New Zealand's score.

Quick wickets

When Samaraweera was out, the last of Martin's victims at 463 for six, the middle and lower order put up only feeble resistance and the last four wickets toppled for 35 runs.

Franklin bowled an energetic spell and added the cheap wickets of Upul Chandana (19), Rangana Herath (0) and Nuwan Kulasekara (0).

New Zealand seemed ready to build a substantial advantage when James Marshall and Craig Cumming comfortably put on 51 for the first wicket but the unorthodox Malinga struck twice.

He trapped both Cumming (16) and Hamish Marshall (6) lbw with swinging, full-pitched deliveries which the batsmen struggled to read in the fading light.

Malinga bowls with a slinging, almost horizontal action and his unusual style has baffled the New Zealand batsmen throughout the match. He struck Cumming on the toe with a full toss which was going on to hit the stumps and he caught Marshall with a ball which seemed to be curving down leg side.

Controversy

The day ended in controversy when umpires Steve Bucknor and Darrell Hair hastened stumps because of bad light, denying Sri Lanka a chance to press its obvious advantage.

New Zealand wanted its light appeals upheld earlier as it struggled to pick Malinga's line and length. The Sri Lankan team felt a burst of early evening sunshine should have allowed play to continue. — AP

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