Kumar Sangakarra’s double century which took him one short of Don Bradman’s all time record of 12 wasn’t the only milestone to be reached in the match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Vice Captain Kane Williamson and BJ Wattling yet again was involved in a record sixth partnership in test matches .
New Zealand who came into this game looking to seal the two match series were unchanged just like Sri Lanka were. The Asian side who came into 1-0 down were looking from inspiration from Angelo Matthews and veteran Kumar Sangakarra no doubt.
Sri Lanka won the toss and were no looking to get an early breakthrough , and they duly did. Tom Latham was the first man to go for six, Prasanna Jayawardena taking the catch behind the stumps off the bowling of Lakmal.
The score at that point was 31-1, and the new batsmen was Kane Williamson who would go on to make a telling contribution in the match. The second wicket pair of Hamish Rutherford and Kane Williamson put on 31 for the second as well. Rutherford was going along nicely and was just starting to get into his stride with some glorious drives.
It was actually a bit of a surprise when the New Zealand opener Rutherford nicked a ball to wicketkeeper Jayawardena who took his second catch of the match. Ross Taylor who came to the crease did accompany Williamson very well, until the former Kiwi’s captain dragged back onto his stumps for a attractive looking 35. A procession of wickets fell including captain Brendan McCullum for a duck after the former wicketkeeper also dragged back onto his stumps.
Kane Williamson did make a battling 69 as he tried to ‘anchor’ the innings for New Zealand – but after the fall of the third wicket, the other seven wickets were lost with just 80 runs scored. The Black Caps after being 141-3 crumbled to 221 all out.
The tourists decision to field look to be a good one, and Sri Lanka were no doubt looking to advantage of such a low first innings total. The Asian Side though couldn’t have got their innings to a worse of a start. The Sri Lanka’s were five down with only 78 on the board – but a crucial 130 stand between the master Kumar Sanagakarra and the protégé Dinesh Chandimal, allowed the defending T20 world champions to regain the initiative.
When Chandimal was dismissed it was down to the veteran Kumar Sanagakarra to farm the strike – and the 37 year old did it expertly as Sri Lanka were all out for 356, a lead of 135. Sangakarra in the process is now only one career double behind Don Bradman’s all time record of 12.
After allowing the visitors to gain a 135 lead, New Zealand knew that they were going to have to perform much better with the bat this time around. The Kiwi’s , second time around produced a much better showing. The first wicket pair of Tom Latham and Hamish Rutherford put up a much better resistance than they did in the first innings.
The opening pair put on 75 for the first wicket – but the first wicket partnership ended when Hamish Rutherford was caught by Dinesh Chandimal. Tom Latham fell soon after with just another three to the board and Ross Taylor was out with out scoring, pandaemonium in the New Zealand batting line up was ensuing.
Skipper Brendan McCullum and vice captain Kane Williamson put on a 43 run fourth wicket partnership which did allow a recovery of sorts – but when McCullum was trapped for 22 by Dhamika Prassad and Jimmy Neesham suffered the same feat at the hands of Pradeep, New Zealand at this stage were in trouble at 159-5.
‘Cometh the hour cometh the man they say’ and for New Zealand it was Kane Williamson. Williamson who was at the other end while the other wickets fell, eventually had an ally in wicketkeeper BJ Watling. The New Zealand pair ended up putting on a test record 365 for the sixth wicket, I guess BJ Watling just loves being involved in record breaking partnerships – it was only last year that the wicketkeeper batsmen was involved in the previous sixth wicket record stand with his captain BJ Watling. The difference here was that this partnership was unbroken.
Brendan McCullum decided that the Sri Lankan’s had endured enough torture – and decided to declare with New Zealand’s batting card reading 524-5, a very impressive feat considering the Black caps were 159-5 at one stage.
The game had been turned on it’s head, Sri Lanka who were at one stage in control of the game, again were firmly on the back foot. The priority was surely survival – but the Sri Lankan’s second innings was just as doomed as their first.
Four wickets fell before the score had even reached 100, in fact the first wicket partnership of 42 was the highest of their second innings. The Sri Lankan score card was depressing reading for Sri Lanka fans. Several players fell for single figures including double hundred hero Kumar Sangakarra who was out for just five.
Sangakarra’s partner in the impressive 130 sixth wicket stand Dinesh Chandimal didn’t fair much better and was out for 13. In fact there were only two players to score 50’s , Kaushal Silva scored 50 and vice-captain Lahiru Thirimane top scored with 62 – but sadly for Sri Lankan fans their team crumbled badly and were all out for a disappointing 196 to lose by 193 runs.
New Zealand then took this series 2-0 to keep their brilliant form of late going, The Kiwi’s have now only lost twice in 15 tests, as for Sri Lanka this test series defeat isn’t ideal preparation for the cricket world cup which starts on the 7th February.