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Karunaratne’s ton leads Sri Lanka to Test win over NZ

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Dimuth Karunaratne. AFP

Karunaratne’s ton leads Sri Lanka to Test win over NZ

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne scored 122 as Sri Lanka chased down 268 for the loss of just four wickets to win the first Test against New Zealand at Galle on Sunday and take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Karunaratne posted his ninth Test hundred along with enjoying a record-equalling opening partnership of 161 with Lahiru Thirimanne, who made 64, as Sri Lanka collected their first points of the World Test Championship.

Former captain Angelo Mathews chipped in with an unbeaten 28 as Sri Lanka finished off the game before lunch after the morning session was extended because only 22 runs were needed at the scheduled time for the interval.

Karunaratne enjoyed some luck on the way to his century, dropped on 58 at forward short leg by Tom Latham while wicketkeeper BJ Watling missed a stumping chance on the same score. He batted for over five hours, facing 245 deliveries, and hit six fours and a six.

Karunaratne and Thirimanne’s stand equalled the record for the highest opening partnership in Tests between the two countries. In 1991, John Wright and Trevor Franklin had also put on 161 for the first wicket in Hamilton.

The opening stand was pivotal in Sri Lanka achieving the highest

successful run chase in Galle, easily surpassing the previous best of 99. Resuming play on 133 for no loss, Sri Lanka required 135 from the remaining three sessions.

New Zealand finally got their breakthrough when Thirimanne was trapped leg before by William Somerville. Given not out by umpire Richard Illingworth, New Zealand overturned the decision on review.

Kusal Mendis soon fell after taking on Somerville, hitting him for a four and a six from the second and fourth balls he faced.

But when he attempted to slog sweep Ajaz Patel in the next over he ended up hitting straight to midwicket where Jeet Raval completed the catch.

Angelo Mathews joined Karunaratne and the pair put on 44 runs for the third wicket to steady the ship.

Sri Lanka lost Kusal Perera after Karunaratne’s dismissal but Dhananjaya de Silva (14) joined Mathews and helped Sri Lanka knock off the remaining runs with two sessions to spare.

Mathews brought up the winning runs with a single to fine leg off Boult.

The second and final Test begins in Colombo on Thursday.

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