Thursday 21 March, 2019

New Zealand closer to victory despite Sri Lanka's efforts

New Zealand players celebrate against Sri Lanka.

New Zealand players celebrate against Sri Lanka.

New Zealand moved a step closer to a series victory despite Sri Lanka's best efforts on day four of the second and final Test in Christchurch.

Sri Lanka ended the penultimate day 231-6 at Hagley Oval, where the tourists tried to keep New Zealand at bay on Saturday.

Rain thwarted New Zealand in the opening Test but wet weather is not expected to rescue Sri Lanka this time around, with the Black Caps still 429 runs ahead and needing just four wickets to clinch the series.

Centuries from Tom Latham (176) and Henry Nicholls (162 not out) on Friday set Sri Lanka a mammoth target of 660 as the touring side resumed on 24-2 on day four.

Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis returned to the crease and provided a stubborn resistance for Sri Lanka, who managed to play out a wicketless session before lunch.

Chandimal and Mendis withstood the challenges of Trent Boult (1-73), Tim Southee (2-61) and Neil Wagner (3-47) as the pair led Sri Lanka to 89-2 at the first break.

Mendis, who was 51 off 113 balls at lunch, moved past 1,000 Test runs in the calendar year – only the second batsman to do so after India captain Virat Kohli in 2018.

Chandimal was 33 off 136 at that stage as the duo put on 65 during the morning session, though the partnership was eventually broken by Wagner after he dismissed Mendis for 67.

Angelo Mathews added 22 before retiring hurt, while Chandimal's 56-run knock was ended when he was caught by Nicholls off the bowling of Wagner, with Sri Lanka 158-4.

New Zealand quick Southee then joined the action after Niroshan Dickwella (19) got an inside edge on the ball, which ricocheted onto the stumps.

Roshen Silva (18) was the only other wicket to fall – becoming Wagner's third victim of the day – as Dilruwan Perera (22 not out) and Suranga Lakmal (16 not out) finished unbeaten.

Scores in the match entering the fifth and final day are: New Zealand 178 & 585-4 declared; Sri Lanka 104 & 231-6.

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