Samaraweera delivers for Sri Lanka
Thilan Samaraweera rescued Sri Lanka with an unbeaten half-century on a rain-shortened third day of the second Test against New Zealand at Colombo' P Sara Oval.
The Black Caps headed into the day in the ascendancy and, after Tharanga Paranavitana and Angelo Mathews took their partnership to 90, further strengthened their position.
Tim Southee led the way, getting rid of the duo to add to the scalps of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, helping reduce Sri Lanka to 128 for six in response to the tourists’ 412.
Yet Samaraweera then duly delivered an innings of exceptional character, reaching 76 not out alongside Suraj Randiv - who was on 34 at stumps - before rain brought an early end to proceedings with the hosts 225 for six.
Paranavitana profited from a typically watchful approach this morning, defending stoutly and only breaking the shackles when a loose delivery was sent down.
The opener enjoyed a reprieve when Ross Taylor dropped a simple catch at first slip off an edged cut, yet was caught behind off Southee soon after for 40.
Southee grabbed another wicket in his next over when Mathews - who was starting to look impressive having launching Jeetan Patel over long-on for six - edged to Martin Guptill in the cordon.
The hosts’ plight worsened when Prasanna Jayawardene top-edged an attempted slog-sweep off Patel to deep square-leg, only for Samaraweera to embark upon a rescue mission.
Willing to start slowly, the middle-order batsman opted for strike rotation rather than attempting expansive strokes and showed great powers of concentration to stave off the New Zealand bowlers.
Samaraweera struck only five fours in a stay that stands at 156 deliveries, while Randiv had faced 102.