The Basin Reserve pitch on which New Zealand amassed 524 for 5 in the third innings, remained good for batting, top-scorer Kane Williamson has said. The hosts set Sri Lanka 390 for victory, but claimed the wicket of Dimuth Karunaratne in the final few overs of the day, and require nine more scalps to complete a 2-0 whitewash. Sri Lanka need 345 more runs to level the series.
"It's still a very good batting surface," Williamson said. If we can get a couple early tomorrow, that will put us in a very strong position, but I think patience is key, because it is a good surface. If you get one then things can happen quite quickly, so who knows. It could be an interesting days' cricket tomorrow."
Williamson's unbeaten 365-run stand with BJ Watling was a world best for the sixth-wicket, beating the record Watling and Brendon McCullum had set at this very ground, against India last February. The team had been only 24 ahead for the loss of five wickets when the pair came together, and Williamson spoke of immense satisfaction at having turned the match for New Zealand. Watling and Williamson had begun day four with New Zealand 113 runs ahead, and could not be separated until the declaration.
"We weren't just batting time today," Williamson said. "It was a bit of a balance because we knew that runs were equally as important. We were slightly ahead of their score coming into today, so it was important that we kept our games tight. You can't come into the day and assume a big partnership like that will happen. But it was nice to stick together through some tough periods and get some momentum. The runs eventually came more freely and it was nice to do what we did today."
The Basin Reserve had only unveiled a plaque to commemorate that previous world record on Saturday, before Watling and Williamson made it obsolete three days later. Williamson said it was Watling's determination that enabled him to be part of two such match-turning stands.
"BJ is such a fighter in everything he does. He works so hard off the park, and it's just great to see him achieving what he is at the moment. He's certainly a bit of a team favourite, the way he goes about his business. The lads really enjoy having him in the team and he leads through his work ethic when he plays."
Watling's keeping has also been exemplary in the past 18 months. He played a part in 40 dismissals in 2014 - the highest for the year, and also had five dismissals in the first innings in Wellington. Williamson and Watling play together for their Northern Districts domestic team, where Watling made a name as an opening batsman.
"I think he is right up there with the best wicketkeeper-batsmen in the world. From an opening bat, turned keeper and middle-order bat, just shows that work ethic. For him to be as tidy as he was in the West Indies where it was turning and bouncing showed the fantastic skill-set that he has. He is up there in both facets of his game."
Williamson was batting on 242 when the declaration was called, but said he had not begun thinking of emulating McCullum, with another triple-hundred in Wellington. "You just have the team as your focus and that keeps you going. That's what BJ and I were thinking about. We needed to draw on that to bat as long as we did. That was very much the motivating factor."