Sri Lanka bundled out for 122 after NZ score 431/6 decl. Pathetic batting helps Black Caps square series

New Zealand replicated their performance of 2012 by bouncing back to win the second Test against Sri Lanka by an innings and 65 runs on the fifth and final day at the P Sara Oval yesterday and thereby square the two-match series one-all.

The last occasion they toured Sri Lanka under the leadership of Ross Taylor in 2012 they lost the first Test at Galle and won the second at the P Sara Oval by 167 runs to tie the two-match series 1-all.

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New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (right) and team mate Ross Taylor celebrate their innings victory over Sri Lanka in the second Test played at the
P Sara Oval yesterday. – AFP

It was a pathetic batting performance by the Lankans that allowed New Zealand to dominate the final day which strangely was the only one not to be affected by bad weather.

The Lankan batting was typical of the weather pattern in the country. At Galle they batted resolutely to successfully chase down a challenging target of 268 on the fifth day, but yesterday they couldn’t defend a first innings deficit of 187 and bat out 91 overs on a pitch where New Zealand had scored 431-6 and two batsmen had made centuries.

Sri Lanka crumbled to 122 all out in the final session with 19.4 overs remaining. They never recovered from a poor start when Lahiru Thirimanne ran himself out for a duck off the fifth ball of the innings and were always fighting with their backs to the wall. They also lost stand-in opener Kusal Perera also for a duck edging a Trent Boult delivery to BJ Watling behind the stumps.

When Angelo Mathews and first innings century-maker Dhananjaya de Silva were also dismissed for single digits the score read a sorry 22-4.

Kusal Mendis who was batting soundly for 20 was then beaten and bowled by an excellent delivery from off-spinner William Somerville that crashed onto his stumps between bat and pad and half the side was gone for 32.

Sri Lanka badly missed the calming influence of their captain Dimuth Karunaratne at the top of the batting as he was forced to bat only at the fall of the fifth wicket because he did not take the field the entire fourth day nursing a strain to his left quadricep.

Karunaratne joined by Niroshan Dickwella kept the Kiwis bowlers at bay raising a stand of 41 off 132 balls before Tim Southee trapped him lbw for 21 to claim his 250th Test wicket and join team mate Trent Boult who had achieved the same milestone during the Sri Lanka first innings.

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Dickwella tried to resist with the tail but found support coming only from Suranga Lakmal who helped him in a partnership of 40 for the eighth wicket. Lakmal fell to Somerville for 14 and thereafter it was only a matter of time before the innings was wrapped up.

Dickwella’s 209-minute defiance was eventually ended at 51 when he was ninth out at 118 sweeping to a ball from Ajaz Patel which in normal circumstances would have gone for runs but in this instance Tom Latham anticipated it so beautifully to catch it quite comfortably at forward short leg.z Spo p12 Pathetic03

It was a fine all round team performance by New Zealand to bounce back after their six-wicket loss at Galle, and in a Test that had been affected by bad weather right throughout the first four days. All the bowlers used by skipper Kane Williamson chipped in with wickets and their never-say-die attitude and belief won the day for them.

Resuming at 382-5 New Zealand knocked off 49 runs off five overs in the morning session before declaring their first innings closed at 431-6, with a lead of 187 and a minimum of 91 overs to bowl Sri Lanka out a second time.

Although losing Colin de Grandhomme to the second ball of the day without adding to his overnight score of 83, Brendon-John Watling and Tim Southee contributed an unbroken stand of 49 off 28 balls for the seventh wicket.

Southee slammed two sixes and as many fours in his cameo-knock of 24 not out off 10 balls, and Watling unbeaten on 81 overnight reached his seventh Test hundred with a pull of Lasith Embuldeniya for four to mid wicket and remained unbeaten on 105 off 226 balls (9 fours).

With his contribution of 77 in the first Test to go with his century yesterday Watling was made Player of the Series. Latham took the Player of the Match for his marathon knock of 154 that set up New Zealand’s match-winning total.

The defeat was the fifth occasion where Sri Lanka had won the first Test of a series at Galle and succumbed in the second played at the P Sara Oval (see table).

New Zealand picked up their first points in the ICC World Test Championship and are tied at the top with Sri Lanka and India on 60 points each

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