Cricket Article

New Zealand Level Test Series With Final Day Win over Sri Lanka

New Zealand Level Test Series With Final Day Win over Sri Lanka Photo: TT
New Zealand Won the Second Test in Colombo

New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 65 runs to ensure their two match test series ended in a draw.

With the home side leading by one game to nil in the two test series, Sri Lanka brought in Diluwan Perera for Akila Dananjaya, under investigation by the ICC for a suspected bowling action, whilst New Zealand strengthened their batting by preferring Colin de Grandhomme to Mitchell Santner.

Rain delayed the start of play on the first morning but, when proceedings finally started, it was Sri Lanka who won the toss in Colombo and opted to bat first. New Zealand got off to an excellent start, Lahiru Thirimanne caught cheaply by Kane Williamson, with William Somerville the bowler. But Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis then put on 50 for the second wicket until Mendis fell for 32, caught behind off de Grandhomme. The rain returned shortly afterwards, and play closed for the day with Sri Lanka 80 - 2.

Sri Lanka were soon in trouble on the second morning, with the New Zealand quicker bowlers doing the damage. First, Angelo Mathews was caught behind off Trent Boult cheaply, with Kusal Perera out lbw for a duck to the same bowler four balls later. Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva added 37 for the 5th wicket, but then captain Karunaratne was caught behind off the bowling of Southee for 65. Three balls later the bowler struck again to have Niroshan Dickwella also caught behind as Sri Lanka stumbled to 130 – 6 before the weather intervened again shortly afterwards, bringing a premature end to proceedings for the day.

Sri Lanka were 144 – 6 overnight.

Resuming on the third morning, Dhananjaya and Dilruwan Perera added 27 to their overnight score until Perera fell for 13, lbw to Ajaz Patel. However, Dhananjaya batted sensibly with the rest of the tail, and he put on 43 for the 8th wicket until Suranga Lakmal was caught behind off Southee for 10. Lasith Embuldeniya and Lahiru Kamara hung around for enough time for Dhananjaya to reach his 4th test century, before Embuldeniya was lbw to Southee, and Dhananjaya was last man out, bowled for 109 by Boult. However, he had helped his side reach 244 all-out.

In reply, New Zealand lost Jeet Raval in the third over, caught by Dhananjaya off Dilruwan Perera. Tom Latham and Kane Williamson then put on 33 for the second wicket and, although Williamson was caught by Kusal Mendis off Kumara, Latham and Ross Taylor continued to build the New Zealand reply. The pair added 50 but then Taylor was out for 23, caught by Dhananjaya, with Embuldeniya the bowler this time. Then Latham combined with Henry Nicholls and the pair added 42, before Nicholls fell to the bowling of Dilruwan Perera, with Dhananjaya with the catch yet again.

However, then Latham and Watling came together, and the pair put on an unbeaten 70, as New Zealand closed the day on 196 – 4. Watling was unbeaten on 25, whilst Latham had completed his 9th test century, and was 111 not out overnight.

With rain once again delaying proceedings on the 4th day, New Zealand were in a rush to build a first innings lead and force a potentially match-winning position. Latham and Watling added 73 to their overnight score until Latham finally fell for 154, lbw to Dilruwan Perera, He had hit 15 fours. However, Watling and de Grandhomme added an unbeaten 113, with de Grandhomme hitting 5 sixes in his 83 not out, whilst Watling was 81 not out at stumps as New Zealand closed on 382 – 5, a lead of 138, with five first innings wickets in hand.

On the fifth morning, New Zealand lost de Grandhomme to Embuldeniya without adding to his overnight score of 83, which included 5 sixes. However, Watling went on to score a century for the second successive match – his 7th in test cricket -whilst Southee blasted a rapid 24, including 2 sixes.

New Zealand then declared on 431 -6, a lead of 187, with Watling unbeaten on 105.

Sri Lanka were in trouble from the start in their second innings, although their cause was not helped when their captain Karunaratne was unable to bat at the top of the order through injury. Matters then immediately got worse when Thirimanne was run out off just the fifth ball, quickly followed by the departure of Kusal Perera, caught behind off Trent Boult for a duck. Then Angelo Mathews was caught by Taylor off de Grandhomme, and Dhananjaya fell to Patel, caught by Southee, leaving the home side on 22 – 4. Kusal Mendis was the next to fall, bowled by Somerville for 20, before Dickwella, and Karunaratne came together to steady the ship with a stand of 41, until Karunaratne was lbw to Southee for 21, who, four overs later, had Dilruwan Perera caught by Taylor for a duck.

Dickwella and Lakmal held out for an hour, adding 40 for the eight wicket, but Lakmal fell for 14, caught by Latham off Somerville. And then Sri Lanka’s hopes of saving the test evaporated when Dickwella, who had held the innings together scoring 51, was also caught by Latham, Patel the bowler this time. Last man out was Embuldeniya who was caught by Williamson off Boult as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 122.

Rajeev mcallister
Sports Pundit staff writer

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