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New Zealand scramble to nervous Test victory

Set a target of just 119 by Sri Lanka, the hosts lost 4 wickets for 10 runs to be 68 for four before they scrambled home just after tea on day three.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2006 12:05 IST

New Zealand secured a nervous five-wicket victory in the low-scoring first test match against Sri Lanka in Christchurch on Saturday.

Set a target of just 119 after Sri Lanka were dismissed for 170 in their second innings, the hosts lost four wickets for ten runs to be 68 for four before they scrambled home just after tea on day three.

Kumar Sangakkara (100 not out) struck his 11th test century to give the tourists hope after they resumed on their overnight 125 for eight, but he ran out of partners as Sri Lanka looked to post a tricky target on an inconsistent Jade Stadium track.

New Zealand started their chase promisingly, openers Craig Cumming (43) and Jamie How reaching 58 without loss before a slump of four wickets for ten runs gave Sri Lanka cause for optimism.

How was trapped in front by Muttiah Muralitharan for 11 before Cumming was caught behind off Chaminda Vaas with the score on 66.

Skipper Stephen Fleming got a three-ball duck when he was caught lbw by Vaas before Muralitharan completed the collapse by having Mathew Sinclair caught by Sangakkara for four to make it 68 for four.

But Nathan Astle (24) calmed matters with a stand of 35 with Jacob Oram (12 not out) before he again fell leg before to Muralitharan.

QUICK KILL

Brendon McCullum went in for a quick kill as he struck two fours and a six in his breezy 14 to take the Kiwis over the finishing line, hitting the winning runs to the midwicket boundary.

Earlier, Sri Lanka lost Lasith Malinga for a 28-ball duck and Muralitharan run out for eight while Sangakkara, starting the day on 63, was stranded on 100.

Malinga's vigil was ended when he was caught behind by McCullum to earn James Franklin his second wicket.

The innings ended in controversial manner when Muralitharan was run out by McCullum after completing the single that earned Sangakkara his century.

Umpire Brian Jerling deemed the ball to still be alive when the off-spinner went to congratulate his team mate and he was given run out when McCullum broke the stumps to the consternation of the Sri Lankan duo.

The second and final test starts at Wellington's Basin Reserve on December 15.