Samaraweera keeps Kiwi attack at bay
Samaraweera keeps Kiwi attack at bay
Sri Lanka were in big trouble on 103-5 before finishing the day on 225-6 in reply to New Zealand’s first-innings 412, thanks to the middle-order batsman’s defiant 76 not out off 156 deliveries.
Samaraweera, who had injured his finger while fielding, received valuable support from lower-order batsman Suraj Randiv, who made a resolute 102-ball 34 not out, his highest score in 12 Tests.
The pair had added 97 and helped their team avoid the follow-on when bad light stopped play with 25.4 overs remaining in the day, but the tourists were in control.
Sri Lanka, leading the series 1-0 following their 10-wicket win in the opening Test, were still 187 behind with four wickets in hand.
“He (Samaraweera) didn’t take an injection but took some oral pain killers. He had some strapping and some stitches yesterday,” said Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford.
“It hasn’t been comfortable for him but it goes on to prove how tough the man is both mentally and physically. He got out there and did the job for us.
“I am feeling a lot happier than I was in the first session. It’s been pleasing to see the way the boys dug deep and fought really hard to get us into a much more respectable position.”
Fast bowler Tim Southee, who took two wickets in an over on Monday, had Sri Lanka — resuming on 43-3 — in trouble in the morning when he struck twice before Samaraweera and Randiv steadied the innings.
“It would have been nice to have a couple of more (wickets) today to really get into their tail, but it’s a tough batting line-up. They keep coming one after another and it just shows their great batting depth,” said Southee.
“It’s a massive hour tomorrow morning and if we can pick a couple of wickets and run through them, then who knows. I hope we can make the most of the position we got them in.”
Angelo Mathews and opener Tharanga Paranavitana put on 90 after three wickets had fallen for just 12 on Monday but Southee dismissed them in successive overs.
Paranavitana (40) edged the paceman to wicket-keeper Kruger van Wyk while Mathews (47) fell to a superb one-handed catch by Martin Guptill, who held the ball low to his right in the slips.
New Zealand had wasted an earlier chance to break the fourth-wicket stand when skipper Ross Taylor dropped Paranavitana at first slip off fast bowler Trent Boult when the batsman was on 32.
Mathews played some aggressive shots in the morning, lofting off-spinner Jeetan Patel over wide long-on for the first six of the innings and then cutting the bowler past point for four.
Southee had taken four wickets for 51 off 19 overs by the close of play.
Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal
- The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
- After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.
Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #WengerOut believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.