New Zealand completed an innings and 58-run victory over Sri Lanka in the second Test in blustery Wellington on Monday to sweep the series 2-0 as the South Asian side’s resistance finally broke late on day four.
Having been asked to follow on, Sri Lanka needed 416 runs to make the host bat again but was bowled out for 358 in its second innings at the Basin Reserve.
New Zealand completed its third Test win in succession after claiming the thrilling series-opener by two wickets on the last ball in Christchurch and beating England by one run in another cliffhanger in Wellington.
Sri Lanka’s hopes of a first win in the country since 2006 all but ended when its batters managed only 164 in reply to New Zealand’s declared first innings total of 580 for four.
Those hopes were extinguished in the second innings as five of its top seven batters gave up their wickets trying to attack the short ball on a day blighted by severe gusts of wind.
Though victory appeared beyond Sri Lanka when it resumed on 113 for two in the morning, there was some hope it might bat out the day and even save the match with the help of heavy rain forecast on day five.
Four batters made half-centuries, and number six Dhananjaya de Silva ploughed on to the cusp of a century by tea.
However, a wicket before and after the tea break, including De Silva’s dismissal for 98 with a botched scoop off Michael Bracewell, put the game back in New Zealand’s hands as Sri Lanka fell to 318 for seven.
Tailenders Prabath Jayasuriya and Kasun Rajitha did well to soak up an hour before Jayasuriya top-edged a pull-shot off the spin of Bracewell to be out for two off 45 balls.
Lahiru Kumara joined Rajitha in the blocking mission, and New Zealand grew frustrated as the pair resisted for nearly 16 overs.
The host blew two of its three referrals trying to have Rajitha caught behind off paceman-captain Tim Southee.
Southee finally yielded the breakthrough when Kumara edged to Bracewell in the slips to be out for seven.
Southee blew New Zealand’s final review when Blair Tickner appealed in vain to have Asitha Fernando caught behind.
New Zealand was granted extra overs to capture the final wicket, but it was more a race against failing light than trying to beat the clock.
To the host’s relief, Rajitha soon nibbled at a Southee (3-51) delivery and sent an edge to the slips, where Kane Williamson ended the batter’s 110-ball vigil for 20 to wrap up the match.
It was a brave showing by Sri Lanka’s batters after their calamitous first innings, but most specialists will rue their shot selection after making solid starts.
Captain and opener Dimuth Karunaratne top-edged a pull off Southee to be out for 51 late on day three, while number three Kusal Mendis also pulled at a short ball off Matt Henry to be out for 50 first thing in the morning.
Dinesh Chandimal scored 62 before top-edging Tickner, who finished with 3-84 for the innings.
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