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August 22, 2009

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Ailing Kiwis face tough task in Galle

TILLAKARATNE Dilshan scored a century as Sri Lanka set New Zealand an improbable 413-run target on the fourth day of the first test in Galle yesterday.

A Kiwi win is a very remote possibility, given that New Zealand's best-ever fourth-innings winning total was 324, against Pakistan in 1994.

Beginning the run chase, makeshift opener Daniel Flynn -- standing in for Tim McIntosh, one of seven players to be hit by a stomach bug -- was dismissed for nought in a short evening session to leave the tourists on 30 for one at the close.

Flynn was acrobatically caught by a diving Mahela Jayawardene at slip off seamer Nuwan Kulasekara. Martin Guptill survived to the close on 17 with Ross Taylor on eight not out.

Dilshan has revelled in his new role as opener on his return to cricket after injury, scoring 92 in the first innings and then an entertaining 123 from 131 balls with 12 boundaries and a six.

Sri Lanka powered its way to 259 for four from just 49 overs in its second innings having earlier bowled New Zealand for 299 after 35 minutes of play in the morning. The declaration was announced as the players left the field for the tea interval. Only 13 overs were possible in the last session due to light rain and bad light.

Dilshan was supported by a stylish 46 from skipper Kumar Sangakkara, the pair adding 101 after the early fall of opener Tharanga Paranavitana (5).

Jayawardene scored a brisk 27 before being caught and bowled by Jeetan Patel and Thilan Samaraweera smashed two sixes in his 20-run cameo.

New Zealand's fight to save the opening test was not helped by a stomach bug effecting seven members of the playing 11. Wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum and batsman Jesse Ryder were the mostly severely affected and were unable to take the field in the morning.

Jacob Oram, Patel, Flynn, McIntosh and Chris Martin were also affected, team manager Dave Currie said.

Spinner Muttiah Muralitharan finished with four for 73 from 42 overs while seamer Thilan Thushara claimed four for 81 as the Sri Lankans took the last two wickets of New Zealand's first innings.


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