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1st Test: Mitchell's ton, Henry's 72 help New Zealand fight back; Sri Lanka 83/3 at end of Day 3

Christchurch (New Zealand), March 11 (IANS) Daryl Mitchell struck his fifth Test century while Matt Henry made a career-best 72 helping New Zealand fight back on Day 3 of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval here on Saturday.

Mitchell scored a superb 102 off 193 deliveries hitting six fours and two sixes and with Henry blazing to a quick-fire half-century as New Zealand clawed their way back into the match.

The Test was delicately poised as Blair Tickner then claimed 3-28 in a superb burst of pace bowling as Sri Lanka slumped to 83/3 in 38 overs in their second innings at the close of play on the third day. They had a slight lead of 65 runs with seven-second innings wickets in hand. Angelo Mathews was batting on 20 along with Prabath Jayasuriya (2 not out) at stumps.

But New Zealand’s spirits were dampened by a leg injury to pacer Neil Wagner late on day three.

However, the day belonged to the Black Caps, especially Mitchell and Henry as they rescued their team from a precarious 162/5 in response to Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 355, at the close of play on Day 2.

Mitchell’s century and some late-order pyrotechnics propelled New Zealand to a first innings total of 373 – a lead of 18 on the first innings.

Starting at the overnight score of 162/5, New Zealand were down to 188/6 when Michael Bracewell fell in the first session. He scored 25 before edging behind to Niroshan Dickwella off Prabath Jayasuriya.

Mitchell was in superb form as New Zealand took advantage of the best batting conditions in the match so far, bringing up his fifth Test century and second at his home ground. He had struck his maiden unbeaten ton at the same Hagley Oval against Pakistan in January 2021. Mitchell has been in brilliant touch since the June tour of England, hitting three centuries – including a Test-best 190 in Nottingham.

Mitchell had walked in to bat on Friday afternoon with New Zealand tottering at 76/3 in difficult batting conditions with the ball swinging and seaming about and a confident Sri Lankan pace attack putting the Black Caps under pressure.

He combined for a 47-run stand for the seventh wicket with skipper Tim Southee (25) adding 56 for the eighth wicket with Matt Henry before he was caught behind by Dickwella off Lahiru Kumara.

Henry and Wagner (27) then smashed 69 runs off 49 balls in their entertaining ninth-wicket partnership, belting the Sri Lanka bowlers around the ground. Henry showed off his power-hitting ability, clubbing 24 off an over from Rajitha, which included five boundaries as New Zealand erased the first innings’ deficit and gained an a small lead.

Brief scores:

Day 3: Sri Lanka 355 and 83/3 in 38 overs (Oshada Fernando 28; Blair Tickner 3-28) lead New Zealand 373 all out in 107.3 overs (Daryl Mitchell 102, Matt Henry 72, Tom Latham 67; Asitha Fernando 4-85, Lahiru Kumara 3-76) by 65 runs.



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