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August 29, 2009

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Sri Lanka builds huge lead to close in on series sweep

SKIPPER Kumar Sangakkara cracked an unbeaten 64 to put Sri Lanka in a strong position to win the second test against New Zealand, finishing day three yesterday with a 339-run lead.

Sangakkara compiled a 68-run partnership with Mahela Jayawardene to steer the home side to 157-2 in its second innings at stumps, building on a 182-run first innings lead after the Black Caps were bowled out for 234 shortly before lunch.

Sangakkara hit seven boundaries in his 90-ball innings and brought up his 33rd test half-century, his second in the match, by hitting a straight six against offspinner Jeetan Patel.

Jayawardene was batting on 23 when play was called off 12 overs ahead of schedule because of rain at Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo.

Sri Lanka lost both wickets in the middle session: Tillakaratne Dilshan (33) was caught at long-on by Martin Guptill off Patel and Tharanga Paranavitana (34) went in the penultimate over before tea.

Paranavitana was unlucky to be given out caught behind, attempting to sweep Daniel Vettori. Replays showed the ball made no contact with Paranavitana's bat before being collected by wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum.

Earlier, in the morning session Sri Lankan spinners Rangana Herath and Muttiah Muralitharan snared three wickets each as the Black Caps, resuming on 159-5, lost their remaining five wickets for 75 runs.

Herath returned 3-70 while Muralitharan had 3-71.

"I feel we are in a good position at the moment," Herath said. "If we score 400-plus we have a chance to win."

Ross Taylor made the only half-century, scoring 81 runs off 155 balls with 10 boundaries. He shared an 85-run stand for the fourth wicket with Jesse Ryder on Thursday.

"Disappointed couldn't get a 100 after the start and we needed someone to go on and get a big score," Taylor said.

"We were a good 150 runs short."

Vettori scored 23.


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