New Zealand strike as Sri Lanka chase 390 for victory

Wednesday, 7 January 2015 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Williamson scores first test double century Watling in second world record sixth-wicket stand

WELLINGTON (Reuters): Mark Craig dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne in the final 15 minutes of play to give New Zealand a slight edge in the second test as Sri Lanka reached 45 for one, chasing 390 for victory, at the close of the fourth day’s play on Tuesday. Kaushal Silva was on 20 with nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad on one after he came to the crease when Craig had Karunaratne caught by Hamish Rutherford at mid-off for 17 to reduce Sri Lanka to 42 for one.   The visitors, who need to win the game to level the two-match series after New Zealand won the first by eight wickets, had the game taken away from them on Tuesday by a world record partnership between Kane Williamson and BJ Watling.   Sri Lanka had been looking at victory inside three days before Williamson and Watling came together after lunch on Monday with the hosts 159 for five and holding a 24-run lead. When Brendon McCullum declared New Zealand’s innings closed at 524 for five after tea on Tuesday, the pair had produced a world record sixth-wicket stand of 365 with Williamson 242 not out, while Watling was on 142. “Great to do what we did and for BJ to play so well and both of us put together a big partnership,” Williamson told reporters. “It wasn’t without a bit of luck on a very good batting wicket.   “We are going to have to work hard to take nine more wickets but it was nice get the team into the position we’re in.” Their partnership surpassed the 352 Watling and McCullum scored against India last year, also at the Basin Reserve. Neither were flamboyant in their approach at the crease as they initially battened down and played conservatively, ticking off each run and each session.   They resumed on Tuesday on 253 for five and patiently collected singles and rotated the strike with Williamson bringing up his ninth test century in the first session before Watling achieved his fourth test century after lunch.   Williamson, who was dropped on 29, 60 and 104, quickly surpassed his previous best score of 192 after tea and then hit Rangana Herath over mid-wicket for his 13th boundary to register his double century, though he said that was never on his mind. “Not really,” he said. “Talk about 100 or 200s it’s great to get them but it’s more important to keep going to put the team in a better position. The team needed it so that partnership was crucial.”          

 Focus on team helped build partnership, says Williamson

WELLINGTON (Reuters): Kane Williamson and BJ Watling were so much in the flow of their world record partnership, they appeared surprised to see captain Brendon McCullum waving them in as he declared to set Sri Lanka a target of 390 to win the second test at the Basin Reserve. Williamson and Watling combined for a world record sixth-wicket stand of 365 runs in New Zealand’s 524 for five declared, with Williamson undefeated on 242, while Watling was on 142 not out. Sri Lanka ended the fourth day on 45 for one. The partnership turned the match for the hosts, who only had a 24-run lead when the duo began batting together late on Monday and the visitors looking like they could sew up a series-levelling victory inside three days. “BJ and I were quite content to keep ticking it along but Brendon thought it was best to declare and he did,” said Williamson, adding that personal milestones like a possible triple century were not even in the picture. “It was still a long way away, but that’s just part of the game isn’t it? You just have the team as your focus and that keeps you going and what BJ and I were thinking about. We needed to draw on that to bat as long as we did. That was very much the motivating factor and then Brendon was waving his arms so that’s fine.” Williamson would not reveal exactly what was discussed in the middle as he and Watling built their partnership ball by ball, over by over and session by session. Often, he said, it was just a few short words, with the wicketkeeper the more chatty of the two. “When BJ came out he was doing most of the talking,” Williamson said. “When you get on a bit of a flow the chats are short and sharp, bit of a glove punch and you get back to doing what you were doing. It got to the point where we were trying to keep each other going and just meeting in the middle and talking about the plans and batting for as long as we can. That was the focus (and) it was just nice to bat as long as we did. The team needed it.”

 New Zealand need to bring ‘A’ game to ensure victory

WELLINGTON (Reuters): New Zealand would need to bring their ‘A’ game back to the Basin Reserve on Wednesday to dismiss Sri Lanka fighting to salvage the test series on a very good batting wicket, according to batsman Kane Williamson. Sri Lanka were 45 for one at the close of play on Tuesday, needing another 345 runs on the final day after Williamson and BJ Watling had turned the game in the hosts’ favour with a world record sixth-wicket partnership of 365.   “Obviously the wicket was a very good batting surface,” said Williamson, who scored a career-best 242 not out. “We have got to come back tomorrow and bring our ‘A’ game to dismiss a strong Sri Lankan batting lineup. “They showed in the first innings they were more than comfortable on that surface. “If we can get a couple early tomorrow that will put us in a very strong position but I think patience is key because it is a good surface.   “But if you get one (wicket) then things can happen quite quickly so who knows how tomorrow unfolds.” Sri Lanka need to win the game to level the two-match series after New Zealand won the first test in Christchurch. The highest successful run chase batting last on the Basin Reserve is the 277 for three that Pakistan achieved in 2003.   Opener Kaushal Silva will resume on 20 on Wednesday along with nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad, though he gave several hints late on Tuesday that his stay at the crease may be short, which will bring Kumar Sangakkara, who scored 203 in the first innings, to the wicket. “We are going to have to work hard to take nine more wickets,” Williamson added, aware of the threat Sangakkara will pose. “If we bowl in the right areas like we know we can (we can) create opportunities, but anyone with Kumar Sangakkara in their team can have confidence so I think it’s set up for a good day of test cricket.”