Galle-BJ Watling rescued New Zealand with a gutsy unbeaten 63 as the visitors overcame a batting collapse to reach 195 for seven in their second innings on day three of the opening test against Sri Lanka on Friday.

The tourists, having conceded an 18-run first innings lead, were reeling at 25 for three but Tom Latham made 45 and Watling produced a fighting 50 to stretch New Zealand’s lead to 177 runs with three wickets in hand at stumps. William Somerville was batting on five at the other end when bad light stopped play at the Galle International Stadium.

Earlier, Sri Lanka added 40 runs to their overnight score of 227-7 before losing their last three wickets in the morning session. New Zealand, who made 249 in the first innings, were undone by the Sri Lankan spinners in their second spell as well. Off-spinner Dhanjaya de Silva drew first blood when Jeet Raval (four) was caught in the cover after trying to check his drive shot.

Kane Williamson had fallen for a third ball duck in the first innings and he looked uncharacteristically ill at ease in the second as well. The right-hander made four before charging out against Lasith Embuldeniya and Kusal Perera, positioned at mid-on, took a superb catch leaping backward to send back the New Zealand skipper. In his next over, Lasith Embuldeniya dismissed Ross Taylor (three) to further peg back the tourists.

Latham staged a brief recovery job with Henry Nicholls who contributed 26 before both departed. Watling then took it upon himself to stretch their lead. The wicketkeeper-batsman hit five boundaries in his patient knock while Tim Southee chipped in with 23.

“It was a fantastic innings by Watling. He is a guy who stands up when we need him and he showed that again today. The last couple of partnerships were crucial,” opening batsman Tom Latham, who made 45, told journalists. “The calmness under pressure is superb. He has done it time and again for us. When he is pushed to tough situations, he enjoys those situations and that brings the best out of him. It’s great to have him in our team,”  he added.

Latham said that a target in excess of 200 would be hard for Sri Lanka to chase. “We are not too far off from that. Hopefully we can stitch that total to as many as possible. We know how tough it can be in the fourth innings to chase down a score. “At that point we were 160 for seven and we were in big trouble. I had to build the innings with Suranga and I had to get some runs as well. I had to protect Suranga from the tough bowlers,” Dickwella said.

“Even if we get a target of 225 or so I think we can chase it down. Batting fourth will be tough on this wicket, no doubt about that, but we have a decent batting line-up. Looking forward for the challenge,” he added.

 

 

Scorecard

NEW ZEALAND 1ST INNINGS: 249

SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS:

D Karunaratne lbw b Patel....... 39

L Thirimanne st Watling b Patel 10

K Mendis c Taylor b Patel........ 53

A Mathews c Taylor b Patel..... 50

K Perera c Santner b Boult......... 1

D de Silva c & b Patel.................. 5

N Dickwella not out................... 39

A Dananjaya c Taylor b Somerville 0

S Lakmal b Boult....................... 40

L Embuldeniya lbw b Somerville 5

L Kumara not out0

EXTRAS: (b 1, lb 1, w 1).............. 3

TOTAL: (all out, 93.2 overs)... 267

FOW: 1-27, 2-66, 3-143, 4-144, 5-155, 6-158, 7-161, 8-242, 9-262, 10-267.

BOWLING: TA Boult 20-4-45-2, TG Southee 7-3-17-0, WER Somerville 22.2-3-83-3, AY Patel 33-6-89-5, MJ Santner 11-0-31-0.

NEW ZEALAND 2ND INNINGS:

J Raval c Karunaratne b de Silva 4

T Latham c Thirimanne b Dananjaya             45

K Williamson c Perera b Embuldeniya           4

R Taylor c de Silva b Embuldeniya  3

H Nicholls c Mendis b de Silva 26

BJ Watling not out...................... 63

M Santner c Lakmal b Embuldeniya               12

T Southee st Dickwella b Embuldeniya          23

W Somerville not out................... 5

EXTRAS: (b 4, lb 4, nb 2).......... 10

TOTAL: (7 wkts, 76 overs)...... 195

FOW: 1-8, 2-20, 3-25, 4-81, 5-98, 6-124, 7-178.

BOWLING: RAS Lakmal 8-1-25-0, A Dananjaya 24-3-56-1, DM de Silva 10-3-16-2, L Embuldeniya 29-3-71-4, CBRLS Kumara 5-0-19-0.

TOSS: New Zealand

UMPIRES: M Gough, R Illingworth

TV UMPIRE: Bruce Oxenford

MATCH REFEREE: Andy Pycroft

TV UMPIRE: Bruce Oxenford

MATCH REFEREE: Andy Pycroft