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Fiery spell by Chris Martin

WELLINGTON, APRIL 11. Paceman Chris Martin took six for 54, his best return in 23 Tests for New Zealand, to damage Sri Lanka's first innings on the opening day of the second cricket Test at the Basin Reserve on Monday.

Martin took the first six wickets to fall, had scooped his sixth five-wicket haul in Tests before lunch, single-handedly exploiting New Zealand's decision to bowl first on a damp, volatile pitch.

Making full use of an arsenal of weapons, principal among them late swing and exaggerated seam movement, Martin restricted Sri Lanka to 211.

New Zealand was 52 for no loss at stumps in reply, with James Marshall unbeaten on 24 and Craig Cumming on 14.

Sri Lanka would have been in a worse position if Martin had more help from the other end. While he toiled through 20 overs at one end, James Franklin and Kyle Mills bowled 31 from the other and took only one wicket between them at a cost of 101 runs.

It was left to Nathan Astle, when Martin was too tired to continue, to take three for 35 and finish off the Sri Lankan innings.

Superb spell

Martin bowled his first 11 overs consecutively and had five for 29 by lunch. He came back to bowl four more overs in the early part of the afternoon, to take another wicket at a cost of only three runs and to leave Sri Lanka 80 for six.

But when his threat was removed, as the other New Zealand bowlers struggled and as five catches were dropped, Sri Lanka was able to make repairs to its innings.

Thilan Samaraweera scored 73 — his eighth half-century in Tests — and shared an 89-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Upul Chandana (41) which saved Sri Lanka from disaster.

Samaraweera came to the crease when Sri Lanka was 36 for three and stayed there, at times with extreme difficulty, for more than four hours to rebuild an innings that had been in complete disorder.

He had got reprieves, with Stephen Fleming at first slip and Cumming at short leg dropping catches.

With Chandana he carried Sri Lanka from 86 for seven, when Franklin bowled Chaminda Vaas, to 175 for eight, to set aside the threat of complete collapse.

After the eighth wicket pair, Sri Lanka's largest contributions were Sanath Jayasuriya's 22, Kumar Sangakkara's 16 and extras, which provided 21. — AP

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