Big tons by Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls enabled New Zealand to declare their second innings on 585-4 before knocking over two Sri Lankan wickets to end the third day of the second Test at Christchurch on a high.
Ross Taylor added just 15 runs to his overnight score (racing to 40 off 44 balls), which brought Latham and Nicholls together in a stand of 214 off 332 balls, with both batters contributing at least 100 runs during the partnership.
Latham fell for 176 off 370 balls with his side’s score on 461, his eighth Test ton, taking his series aggregate to 450 from three innings following his undefeated 264 in the first Test.
Nicholls and Colin de Grandhomme then added a lightning-fast, undefeated 124 runs for the fifth wicket off just 87 balls, with De Grandhomme scoring the fastest half-century for New Zealand in Tests off just 28 balls.
The declaration came with New Zealand on 585-4 off 153 overs at a rate of 3.82 runs per over. Nicholls’ fourth Test century (162 not out off 225 balls) was also his highest Test and first-class score, while De Grandhomme’s 71 not out (45 balls, 6×4, 2×6) was his fourth Test half-century.
The bowling figures made grim reading for the Sri Lankan bowlers, with three bowlers conceding more than 130 runs – Lahiru Kumara (32-6-134-2), Dushmantha Chameera (30-5-147-1) and Dilruwan Perera (41-3-149-1) – while Suranga Lakmal (30-6-96-0) almost became the fourth bowling ‘centurion’ of the innings.
Facing a severely uphill target of 660 with two days and 14 overs in hand, Sri Lanka started disastrously, losing both openers before the score had reached double figures. Sri Lanka ended the day on 24-2, keeper BJ Watling taking the catches off the bowling of Trent Boult and Tim Southee.
New Zealand will expect to wrap the match up without much hassle to secure a 2-0 series victory, with the last wicket likely to drop late on day four or early on day five of the Test. Although Sri Lanka’s batters have shown on numerous occasions their ability to grind out a draw in tough situations, with a budget of just four wickets a day, it’s a massive task.
Compounding their difficulties is the fact that they have zero chance of victory, as not even the best batters of all time could hope to score 318 runs at more than 3.5 an over for two days in a row.
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