New Zealand Victory Over Sri Lanka!
A world record sixth-wicket partnership by Kane Williamson and BJ Watling handed New Zealand an unlikely shot at victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka.
Williamson scored a maiden double century and wicketkeeper Watling a Test-best 142, with the pair adding 365 as the Black Caps negotiated day four at the Basin Reserve without losing a wicket.
They declared on 5-524 to set Sri Lanka 390 to win from a maximum of 107 overs. By stumps Sri Lanka had reached 1-45. To level the series they will need to pass the previous best score to win a Test on the ground – 277 by Pakistan in 2003.
The partnership between Williamson and the Black Caps’ wicketkeeper eclipsed that set at the same ground less than a year ago when Watling and Brendon McCullum combined to add 352 to steer the hosts to safety against India.
Williamson was unbeaten on 242 when the declaration came with 17 overs left in the day.
Sri Lanka, who boasted a 135-run first innings lead, were left to rue three dropped chances offered by Williamson in his innings and also missed a stumping, but only when the 24-year-old had reached 233.
Watling’s chanceless innings surpassed his previous best of 124 set in the great escape against India at the same ground last February.
The visitors began the day with high hopes of making an early breakthrough with the hosts 5-253 and leading by just 118 runs, but could only induce two false shots from Williamson.
The first came after he reached his ninth Test ton – joining Stephen Fleming in sixth on NZ’s all-time list – with wicketkeeper Prassana Jayawardene failing to hold an edge and he was the guilty party late on to deny spinner Rangana Herath on both occasions.
Sri Lanka left the field a dejected bunch after toiling for 101 fruitless overs without claiming a wicket.
Williamson, who resumed the day on 80, went to his double century with a drive to the mid-wicket boundary, surpassing his previous Test-best on 192 set against Pakistan in November.
His more than 10-hour marathon in his 71st Test innings saw him become the fastest New Zealand batsmen to 3000 Test runs, beating Martin Crowe’s mark of 73 set in 1989 and was the seventh-best Test score by a Kiwi.
Sri Lankan openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva endured some nervy moments with both Trent Boult and Tim Southee going past their outside edge before Karunaratne drove offspinner Mark Craig’s second ball to mid-off.
Nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad also set Sri Lankan hearts racing with a few loose shots but he and Silva survived to the close.