Dushmantha Chameera finished Day Two with career-best figures of 5-47 © Getty Images
Dushmantha Chameera finished Day Two with career-best figures of 5-47 © Getty Images

Exit from the ICC World Cup 2015. A home loss to Pakistan in all the formats was lined up next for them. India’s tour of Sri Lanka in August then left the hosts in bits when India thrashed them in the second and the third Test following a loss in the opening match of their three-match Test series. With the end of that series, Sri Lanka had bid adieu to Kumar Sangakkara, their highest run scorer with 12400 runs in 134 Tests. That retirement definitely has left void in the Lankan side which they are still reeling from. The second Test, which is underway at Hamilton against New Zealand has been their first match where the Lankans have showed resistance, determination and fight against a top-ranked side in this new era. And a lot of credit for this goes to Dushmantha Chameera, who ended Day Two with an excellent five-for, thereby pushing the hosts in a uncertain position in the match. FULL Cricket Scorecard: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka 2015-16, 2nd Test, Day 2 at Hamilton

New Zealand, who won the toss, might be regretting their decision to put the visitors in to bat first. Although Sri Lanka managed just 292 runs in their first innings, they have kept the hosts under control with a disciplined bowling. The likes of Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum who had dominated with the bat in the opening Test at Dunedin have not been able to come up with similar innings. While Guptill top-scored with 50 runs in 77 balls, Latham scored a paltry 28, McCullum a 54-ball 18, while arguable New Zealand’s best Test batsman Williamson was dismissed for 1.

The 23-year-old Chameera needed just two overs to make the first breakthrough and Latham was his first victim. The delivery had extra bounce and zip on it, it was enough to dismiss Latham who tucked it towards the leg side into the hands of Dimuth Karunaratne. That was followed by Willimason’s wicket in his very next over and that was definitely the tipping point where the Black Caps started to struggle.

Sri Lankan skipper had found his trump card for the match in Chameera. He was brought into action after a brief break, and the result was the same—WICKET—This time it was WACA’s double centurion, Ross Taylor. Short ball was his weapon and almost all the Kiwi batsmen fell for that trap, Taylor being one of them. Taylor hardly had the thinking time when Chameera bowled him an excellent short-pitched delivery. The New Zealander only struck his bat to it which flew in the air and right in the gloves of the wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal. READ: New Zealand finish at 232-9, trail Sri Lanka by 60 runs at stumps of Day 2 of 2nd Test at Hamilton

Just when the hosts were rebounding following the batting collapse, Chameera was handed the ball once again. And yet again, he did not disappoint his skipper. BJ Watling and Doug Bracewell held nerves as they brought in runs on regular intervals before the former was removed by Chameera. That wicket had brought in Tim Southee who lasted just five balls. His 31-run partnership with Bracewell for 8th wicket was broken by the youngster with another short-pitched delivery. However, he was hit by Neil Wagner across the park before becoming Chameera’s fifth victim of the day.

Chameera’s career-best figures of 5 for 47 have had the perfect timing. Just when his side wanted a player to step-up with a match-winning performance, Chameera has shown glimpses of being that player for Sri Lanka—not just in this match, with this potential, he can go on to become Sri Lanka’s one of the key bowlers in the coming days.

(Sakshi Gupta, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy.” Her Twitter handle is @sakshi2929)