After attacking the New Zealand bowlers on the first day and successfully posting a total of 292, they gave the home team their own treatment by wrecking their top order apart and reducing them to just 232 for 9 at the close of Day 2.
Rookie Dushmantha Chameera was the man responsible for all the carnage. Returning figures of 5/47 in just 12.4 overs with 3 maidens, he was just too good for the home team to handle. The top-order batting line up of Latham, Williamson and Ross Taylor bowed down to him. His last two wickets were easy pickings in the form of Tim Southee and Neil Wagner at the end of the day.
He took the first 3 wickets of the day in a span of just 13 balls after lunch. The idea behind this quick technique was sheer mental strength and strategy. Visiting captain Angelo Mathews packed the whole leg side and challenged the batsmen to strike over leg-side. Both of top-order batsmen – Latham and Williamson and tail-ender Tim Southee fell prey to it and lost their wickets in their attempt to display their heroics.
At one stage, Mathews experimented so much that he placed forward short leg, square leg and a depp forward square, all standing in a straight line. Chameera got hold of Taylor for a duck as he edged one to the man behind him with gloves.
“We got as good as what we gave,” New Zealand opener Martin Guptill said, who had raced to 81 without loss with Latham before Chameera struck.
“There was a period after lunch where it just went away from us and they made it uncomfortable for us.
“It was a tough little period for a while.”
Chameera, who was reaching pace limits of 146kmph had support from fellow paceman Nuwan Pradeep who was about to remove the dangerous Kiwi captain Brendon McCullum for 17 as he got caught at fine-leg while attempting a hook. Replays showed he overstepped and hence the Black Caps captain was provided with a lifeline, but he couldn’t make the most of it as he got out in the next run off a Rangana Herath delivery.
Even though New Zealand are nine down with sixty runs to trail, they still feel they are in this game. Spokesperson Martin Guptill is confident that both tail-enders are capable of scoring rapid runs at the end and get the most runs possible before they are given the ball back.
“I think Dougy has shown us some very good fight there in the number eight position and … hopefully, Boulty can stick around and Dougy can have some fun,” he said.
“We just have to come out tomorrow and get as many runs as possible, then bowl well (and)… we could get them four (wickets) for not many in the morning.
“Cricket is a funny game.”