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New Zealand v Sri Lanka 2022/23

Watch: Three square legs all in a line – New Zealand’s creative field setting outfoxes Angelo Mathews

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Watch: Angelo Mathews fell victim to an intriguing tactical ploy in the second Sri Lanka-New Zealand Test yesterday (March 19), with three fielders placed in a line square of the wicket, and the one in the middle taking the catch.

Aiming for a series clean-sweep, the Black Caps had to contend with a doughty Sri Lanka rearguard, eventually bowling out the tourists on the last scheduled delivery of day four after 142 overs of toil in the follow-on.

Mathews, among the grittiest players Sri Lanka have produced, entered on the third evening and looked intent on defence from the off, taking 20 balls to get off the mark. On the fourth morning, New Zealand opted for a different line of attack, with the quicks aiming short and at the body – Russel Arnold, on commentary, suggested that the leg-side line of attack should prompt the umpires to wide New Zealand for negative bowling, as happened to Sri Lanka in the first Test, if it continued.


It’s a tactic regularly employed by New Zealand, but most often by short-ball specialist Neil Wagner, out of the second Test with injury. Instead, Matt Henry and Blair Tickner took up the cudgels. The Laws of Cricket permit at most two fielders to be stationed behind square on the leg-side however, and that invisible line was pushed to the limit, with three fielders stationed one behind the other square of the batter.

Flapping a pull at Tickner, Mathews picked out the middle of these on the first ball of the fourth over of the day. He fell for two off 40 balls, and a significant obstacle to New Zealand’s progress had been removed.

Watch the Angelo Mathews square leg dismissal below:

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