New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Dunedin, 4th day December 13, 2015

New Zealand push for win on rain-hit day

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Sri Lanka 294 (Karunaratne 84, Chandimal 83) and 109 for 3 (Mendis 46, Chandimal 31*) need 296 runs to beat New Zealand 431 (Guptill 156, Williamson 88, McCullum 75, Pradeep 4-112) and 267 for 3 dec (Latham 109*, Williamson 71)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Kusal Mendis showed a lot of grit, but not in the minutes before the rain arrived © Getty Images

For the second time in the Test, Sri Lanka's inexperienced batting line-up offered more resistance than expected, but New Zealand's persistent fast bowlers supported by the safe gloves of BJ Watling ensured the home side made strides towards victory despite a bad-weather day in Dunedin. Rain and hail halted play three times at University Oval, and at stumps Sri Lanka had seven wickets left and 296 runs to get, with a better forecast for the final day.

Brendon McCullum had given his attack 405 to defend and a little more than five sessions to dismiss Sri Lanka by declaring New Zealand's second innings on 267 for 3 half an hour before lunch on the fourth day. The highlights of their quick run accumulation - 96 in 17.4 overs- was Tom Latham's third Test hundred and McCullum's record-equalling 100th six.

New Zealand's bowlers had to toil harder for wickets than their batsmen had done for runs. Play was halted either side of lunch soon after Sri Lanka began their chase but the openers' approach was not affected. Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis batted with more confidence than they had done at the start of the first innings.

Their partnership could have ended on 28, though, but Martin Guptill dropped a straightforward chance off Mendis at first slip, leaving the bowler Doug Bracewell in anguish. In Bracewell's last over, Mendis had played a perfect straight drive and then was beaten on an expansive cover drive. Having been dropped on 13, Mendis had another reprieve on 25, when Watling could not catch a tough chance down the leg side off a gloved sweep against Mitchell Santner. Mendis collected two fours off the left-arm spinner, punishing long-hops to the leg-side boundary.

Like in his first innings, Karunaratne was dismissed against the run of play, when he tried to upper-cut Southee but edged to Watling. McCullum had held Neil Wagner back until the 29th over, and the left-arm quick broke through in his third. Udara Jayasundera ended a poor debut by fending a short ball off his ribs to Watling. Sri Lanka had gone from 54 for 0 to 64 for 2.

Dinesh Chandimal took his chances against Wagner after tea, slashing and driving outside the off stump. He middle some balls, was beaten on others, and edged a couple over the cordon. Wagner countered by targeting the body with a short-pitched attack from around the wicket, forcing defence from Chandimal.

Mendis took fewer risks, his attacking drives through cover and past Bracewell involving straight bats, as he approached his maiden half-century. He did not get there, though. Three balls after surviving a run-out chance, Mendis pushed at an outswinger from Southee that pitched on a perfect length and moved just enough to draw the edge. Watling took his ninth catch, and moved within two of the record for most dismissals in a Test. It began to rain and hail immediately after the wicket, bringing an early end to the day.

Play had begun under sunny skies on the fourth day, with New Zealand ahead by 308 and two batsmen approaching milestones. Kane Williamson got to his half-century off the second ball of the day, dabbing to square leg and sprinting the second, an indication of the urgency with which New Zealand would bat against little pressure from Sri Lanka.

Latham was playing at balls wide outside off, looking to score swiftly, and on 73 he edged Nunwan Pradeep between the wicketkeeper and first slip. It was Chandimal's catch but he did not move. Latham drove frequently through cover but a lot of his shots found fielders. Then he found the gap at extra cover off Suranga Lakmal to move into the 90s and pulled Pradeep to the long-leg boundary.

Williamson fell before Latham got to his hundred. He had lofted Pradeep to the midwicket boundary, and charged and hit Jayasundera in the same direction, but when he attempted the shot off Dushmantha Chameera, the ball nipped in, hit his pad and bowled him. Williamson's partnership of 141 with Latham had come at 4.36 an over.

Ross Taylor glanced his second ball, from Chameera, for four and hit two more boundaries in his next eight deliveries as New Zealand sped ahead. Latham drove Rangana Herath through midwicket and celebrated a Test hundred for the first time since November 2014, ending a run of seven double-figure scores without making more than 50.

After Taylor was bowled, aiming to hit Herath to deep midwicket, McCullum charged at his first ball and smashed it over the straight boundary. Five balls later, he swiped Herath over deep midwicket to equal Adam Gilchrist's record for most sixes in Test cricket, but decided he did not have to break it in this innings and declared.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sricricket on December 13, 2015, 22:32 GMT

    Mathew gone means SL hope to draw or win this match shattered. Hope rest of the guys will work hard to take this match bit longer.

  • sricricket on December 13, 2015, 22:04 GMT

    This partnership will be the crucial one. Win or loose good fight back by SL team. Never expected to go this far with this new team. Let's start from here. I am guessing Thiri should call for next. Average shows he did not deliver but, he has technique for text level.

  • rob on December 13, 2015, 21:48 GMT

    NZ are definitely in the box seat here but SL are not without hope. I doubt they could draw the game from here unless the weather intervenes and I also doubt they'd even try. They are close enough to go for the win but it certainly won't be easy. .. Just looking at the scorecard it seems that Southee is once again the standout bowler (as he was in Oz) but I was just wondering how Boult is going? He was carrying some sort of injury over here but do you Kiwi fans think he's back to his best yet? .. ps. I thought this series was NZ v SL, not SL v India. Silly me.

  • AllIndia on December 13, 2015, 21:47 GMT

    wouldn't it be fun if Chandi and Angie won it. Wishful thinking?

  • chethana on December 13, 2015, 20:47 GMT

    Mathews & Chandimal should play as long as possible. at least 30 overs up to the lunch & 15 overs after lunch. It means they can score minimum of 100 runs. It is just above 2 runs per over. Then you need 196 in 45 overs. Then Herath should come into the crease before Kithruwan & Siriwardene. Mathews or Chandimal will protect one end & Herath should play as a pinch hitter. He has enough experience to do that. Then Kithruwan & Siriwardene shouldmplay as a T20 game while Mathews/Chandimal protecting one end as both are very good boundary hitters & members of the SL T20 team. They play their best game when looking for runs. Still 70-30 favor of NZ. If we had Kusal Perera it will be 50-50 chance. It is not bad to Mathews protecting one end & Chandimal playing his normal game.

  • chethana on December 13, 2015, 20:12 GMT

    Still we have a chance. Chamdimal & Mathews are the 2 best players in the team as we don't have Kusal Perera at the moment. Milinda Siriwardene is the highest run scorer in last domestic season which mean has the capability to score big. Kithruwan has the SL FC record of highest individual score of 375 in an inning which means can play long innings. Also NZ will be vulnerable if we play attacking game as they have to take 7 wkts as soon as possible with the doubt of rain interruption.

  • chethana on December 13, 2015, 20:01 GMT

    I think SL should go for runs rather than being too much defensive. They should play like a one day game. Still 2 best players in the team on the crease & best new found player still to come & highest run score for SL A in recent NZ A tour still to come. Draw is on the card with the high probability of rain interruption. Therefore they should play the selective attacking game. Missing Kusal Janith Perera is a big disadvantage. He just started to play like a champion batsmen he was suspended. Kusal Mendis looks like a future star. He has a quick hand eye co-ordination just like Kusal Perera. Udara was dismissed for 2 wide deliveries in 2 innings. This team is too much inexperience. Udara's debut match,Mendis 2nd match,Milinda 3rd match, Chameera 3rd match,Kithruwan 9th match. Almost 5 players under 10 matches. If SL can neglect fear of failure & play their best game they can do miracles just like Galle Test against India.

  • Jason on December 13, 2015, 18:16 GMT

    Sl showing good fight. A flat pitch, ongoing weather interruptions, and more of this resolve and they may well save this test. A bit worried to see Boult so down on pace - something is not right with that lad and I hope he is rested from the One Day and 20/20 rubbish to rediscover his form in domestic cricket.

  • Vaishak on December 13, 2015, 16:57 GMT

    One thing about NZ ,they r so amazing on d eye , so attacking under Baz..just come out all guns blazing...might not have worked in Aus, but NZ are still the most exciting test team around..SL shud take just go into indias first test defeat in NZ last tour..chasing 400 ,losing by 40 in an exciting game..survival won't work here, go for the runs..else anyway defeat seems on d cards..

  • AllIndia on December 13, 2015, 16:22 GMT

    Good fight by the Lankans. Didn't expect that. But without help from weather, they won't be able to secure a draw. Baz and his men will close the deal by tea if the weather gods allow.

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