Sri Lankan batters Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews continued their rescue act from the fourth day, seeing out 12 overs against New Zealand before rain brought an end to the first Test at Wellington.
After a delay of 90 minutes in the morning, the pair batted without much fuss as they continued their partnership, with Mendis adding 25 runs to his overnight score to end on 141 not out off 335 balls (16×4). Mathews was far more subdued and scored just three more runs to end undefeated on 120 off 323 balls (11×4) when rain brought the match to a premature halt.
The pair added an unbroken 274 runs for the fourth wickets to end on 287-3 off 115 overs, with Sri Lanka still needing nine runs to make New Zealand bat again.
Tim Southee ended with the most profitable figures, taking 2-52 off his 25 overs (2.08), with Trent Boult the only other player to pick up a wicket (1-62). Ajaz Patel gave away little during his 28 overs, conceding just 46 runs at a rate of 1.64 per over, while Neil Wagner suffered the most punishment, going for 4.34 runs per over, as the Sri Lankan batters brought up 100 runs off his 23 overs.
‘We showed a lot of character throughout the five days,’ said Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal after the match. ‘It was not an easy task going out and batting. Angelo has done really well in the last four to five games. Everytime he goes to bat we want some runs from him and he has done really well, even in the first innings, where he and Karunaratne put on a stand, and in the second innings where he and Mendis played superbly.
‘We got two young fast bowlers in this game and only Suranga has the experience. We’ll have to learn a lot from this Test. We will look forward to executing that in the next Test,’ added Chandimal.
‘The forecast wasn’t too good,’ admitted New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson. ‘Would’ve been good to pick up a few wickets yesterday. But Sri Lanka were at their best. We’ll have positives to take from the match.
‘It was very patient and disciplined batting from Sri Lanka. Credit to Sri Lanka for the character they showed. It’s important we show the same discipline we showed with bat and ball in the first innings,’ he added.
The second (and final) Test in the series begins on 26 December at Christchurch. The Test series will be followed by three ODIs (3 January at Mount Maunganui, 5 January at Mount Maunganui, and 8 January at Nelson) and a T20I (11 January at Auckland).
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