Tuesday, 6 January 2015

New Zealand strike as Sri Lanka chase 390 for victory

Mark Craig dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne in the final 15 minutes of play to give New Zealand a slight edge in the second test as Sri Lanka reached 45 for one, chasing 390 for victory, at the close of the fourth day's play on Tuesday.

Kaushal Silva was on 20 with nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad on one after he came to the crease when Craig had Karunaratne caught by Hamish Rutherford at mid-off for 17 to reduce Sri Lanka to 42 for one.

The visitors, who need to win the game to level the two-match series after New Zealand won the first by eight wickets, had the game taken away from them on Tuesday by a world record partnership between Kane Williamson and BJ Watling.

Sri Lanka had been looking at victory inside three days before Williamson and Watling came together after lunch on Monday with the hosts 159 for five and holding a 24-run lead.

When Brendon McCullum declared New Zealand's innings closed at 524 for five after tea on Tuesday, the pair had produced a world record sixth-wicket stand of 365 with Williamson 242 not out, while Watling was on 142.

"Great to do what we did and for BJ to play so well and both of us put together a big partnership," Williamson told reporters. "It wasn't without a bit of luck on a very good batting wicket.

"We are going to have to work hard to take nine more wickets but it was nice get the team into the position we're in."

Their partnership surpassed the 352 Watling and McCullum scored against India last year, also at the Basin Reserve.

Neither were flamboyant in their approach at the crease as they initially battened down and played conservatively, ticking off each run and each session.

They resumed on Tuesday on 253 for five and patiently collected singles and rotated the strike with Williamson bringing up his ninth test century in the first session before Watling achieved his fourth test century after lunch.

Williamson, who was dropped on 29, 60 and 104, quickly surpassed his previous best score of 192 after tea and then hit Rangana Herath over mid-wicket for his 13th boundary to register his double century, though he said that was never on his mind.

"Not really," he said. "Talk about 100 or 200s it's great to get them but it's more important to keep going to put the team in a better position.

"The team needed it so that partnership was crucial." (Reuters)

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