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August 20, 2009

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Samaraweera's ton bolsters Sri Lanka

THILAN Samaraweera scored a magnificent 159 to leave Sri Lanka in the driving seat in the first test against New Zealand in Galle yesterday.

Sri Lanka piled up 452 in 117.4 overs after being put into bat and New Zealand was 87 for two in reply when bad light stopped play early.

Tim McIntosh will resume in the morning on 36 batting with night-watchman Jeetan Patel on six.

Samaraweera's 10th test hundred, which spanned 277 deliveries and included 24 fours and a six, was also his first since he suffered a bullet wound during the attack on the team bus in Lahore in March.

The right-hander added 166 for the fourth wicket with Mahela Jayawardene (114) and a further 86 for the fifth wicket with Angelo Mathews (39).

The hosts seemed to be cruising towards a larger total but collapsed just before the tea interval, losing their last four wickets for just eight runs.

Pace bowler Chris Martin was New Zealand's best seamer with four for 77 from 23 overs and skipper Daniel Vettori claimed four for 78 from 37.4 overs.

Sri Lanka, resuming on 293 for three, lost Jayawardene during the one-hour morning session - cut short because of early rain - and added 35 runs in 13 overs.

Jayawardene was dismissed in the second over, nibbling at an away-swinger from Ian O'Brien and edging to Ross Taylor in the slips.

After the interval, the fifth wicket pair upped the tempo, especially after Samaraweera reached his hundred.

However, while off-spinner Patel was getting punished, conceding 120 runs from 24 wicketless overs, Vettori held his nerve and started to chip away at the middle order.

Mathews was caught behind off a quicker arm ball and Prasanna Jayawardene pushed a catch to short leg.

The tail collapsed meekly after Samaraweera was finally dismissed by Vettori.


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