shared in opening New Zealand test
It was evident at the end of day one that neither Sri Lanka or New
Zealand had serious intentions on winning the opening test match
played at Napier. The pitch assisted that cause. It did not have
a great deal of pace, very little sideway movement and hardly any
spin, just occasional turn on day five. A track where batsmen could
mental outlook of both teams was defensive. New Zealand were battered
and bruised by the all-powerful Australians. They were shell shocked
from being nailed in both forms of the game. It is never easy to
pick up the pieces right away. To add to that they had a number
of players sidelined through injury. In particular they missed Jacob
Oram, Darrell Tuffy and Daniel Vetori who formed a major part of
their bowling attack at the start of the summer. Oram and Vettori
now play the role of allrounders as well. All reasons to be defensive
in the opening encounter.
Lanka had lack of match practice as their main obstacle. They were
engaging in test cricket after October of last year. In this day
and age not playing in a test match for four months is a very, very
long period of absence. In the past three months all the players
played in a few provincial tournament games at domestic level. Most
of those games of four day duration ended in under three days. Inadequate
time in the middle. A player can be very good but match practice
and match form is a vital ingredient for success. Those were Sri
Lanka's reasons for a watchful approach.
mentioned earlier the pitch was 65% : 35%, in favor of the batsmen.
Should this have a three or four test series then a pitch of this
nature is acceptable. When it is down to a two match series, more
assistance must be given to the bowlers. Either the quicker bowlers
must be able to exploit in the first 5 sessions of the game and
get the batsmen to work hard for survival and runs or days 3 &
4 must be dominated by the spinners. Ideally a balance is the best,
with days 2, 3 & 4 providing good batting conditions. It is
nearly impossible to produce such a pitch!
Black Caps more-or-less batted Sri Lanka out of the game by totalling
561 runs in their first essay. Any team who does that needs to collapse
outright in their second innings if they are to loose the game.
It also requires the opposing team to score 500 runs and score them
quickly in about 4-and-a-half sessions.
Sri Lanka came back in similar fashion to their opponents, to reach
351 for 3 wickets at the end of day 3, the writing was on the wall
that a draw was the only possible result. The plusses from the match
was that five batsmen made the most of the pitch and three bowlers
toiled hard to achieve their share of success.
of the batsmen from both camps was Mahela Jayawardane. He was at
his brilliant best. From the moment he strode out to the middle,
the ball met the middle of his bat. His footwork was precise, the
balance was almost perfect, shot selection was good, making the
results pleasing to witness. In fact, he made it look all so easy.
Lasith Malinga was the outstanding bowler. His different, slinging,
round arm action is going to surprise and baffle many batsmen all
over the world. He has discovered the two main lengths that he should
bowl. One short and rising to the level of the chest. The other
aimed at the block-hold, crushing the batters toes or feet ! Well
bowled Lasith, keep going.
was some excitement on day 5 when the black caps lost some wickets
and lost their way somewhat. But captain Flemming and Lou Vincent
guided them to safety. As bad light intervened and some play was
lost, both teams would have packed their bags content that the points