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Dilshan comes to Lanka's rescue in first Test

cricket Updated: Aug 18, 2009 17:07 IST
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Tillakaratne Dilshan revelled in his new role as opener, at the start of the first Test against New Zealand on Tuesday, by smashing the fastest half-century by a Sri Lankan.

Sri Lanka, sent in to bat by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori under overcast conditions, slipped to 16-2 before Dilshan steered the hosts to 111-2 by lunch on the opening day.

Dilshan returned unbeaten on 74 after reaching his half-century off 30 balls to upstage former captain Arjuna Ranatunga's 31-ball effort against India at Kanpur in 1986.

Mahela Jayawardene was the other batsman at the crease on 29, having so far put on 95 runs with Dilshan for the unbroken third wicket.

The start of the Test was delayed by 90 minutes due to early morning rain, although the pitch and outfield at the Galle International Stadium were unaffected under the covers.

Umpires Daryl Harper and Nigel Llong pushed back the lunch break by an hour to make up for lost time.

Seamer Chris Martin provided a dramatic start when he had Tharanga Paranavitana, Dilshan's fellow opener, edging the third ball of the match to wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum.

Martin also removed Kumar Sangakkara for eight, the Sri Lankan captain flicking a half-volley to the mid-wicket fielder after hitting two boundaries in the same over.

Dilshan, who has batted in the middle order in all of his previous 55 Tests, was promoted to open the batting in order to accommodate fit-again 'keeper Prasanna Jayawardene.

The right-hander hit eight fours and a six by the time he reached 51 in the 11th over in Sri Lanka's total of 67-2.

Dilshan was particularly severe on Iain O'Brien, punching him repeatedly through the covers and pulling a short ball for six before the seamer was taken off after conceding 40 runs in his first four overs.

The Black Caps are due to play two Tests, two Twenty20 internationals and a limited-overs tri-series also featuring India during the five-week tour.