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07 December 2023

New Zealand crush Sri Lanka to win Test series

New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum (centre right) and Tim Southee (centre left) celebrate with teammates after winning the match and the series against Sri Lanka on day five of the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on January 7, 2015. (AFP)


New Zealand recovered from first innings turmoil to convincingly beat Sri Lanka by 193 runs in the second Test in Wellington on Wednesday and record a 2-0 series whitewash.

Led by offspinner Mark Craig who took four for 53, New Zealand ripped through Sri Lanka's second innings after setting them a 390-run target.

Sri Lanka were all out for 196, not helped by the questionable dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara.

The batting maestro's 203 paved the way for Sri Lanka to hold a 135-run first innings lead and New Zealand were in dire straits when they collapsed to be five down and only 24 runs ahead in their second innings.

But a world record sixth-wicket stand of 365 by Kane Williamson and BJ Watling turned the game in New Zealand's favour, leaving Craig and quick bowlers Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell to polish off Sri Lanka on the final day.

"For so long we were miles behind the game and it took something pretty special for us to get out of trouble firstly and then be allowed to dictate play," New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said.

New Zealand sensed the win was on when both Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews fell before lunch on the final day.

"Both guys (are) capable of winning games on their own, so to be able to get both of those guys was huge and certainly at the lunch break we knew we were in with a big sniff of being able to close out the game."

There remained a question mark, however, over Sangakkara's caught behind dismissal.

New Zealand wicketkeeper Watling did not initially join the appeal which was turned down.

However, McCullum sought a review and it took multiple replays before the third umpire Bruce Oxenford of Australia was convinced the technology showed there was the faintest nick.

Mathews, who needed his in-form batsman at the crease to have a chance to save the Test, tactfully refused to criticise the dismissal.

"That's the way it goes and unfortunately, or fortunately, we have to take it as it comes," he said, switching the blame for the "shocking turnaround" on poor fielding including four let offs for Williamson on his way to an unbeaten 242.

"If we had held on to our catches, it would have been a different story. But they were able to reverse the pressure on us and we just couldn't hold on," he said.

"Kane batted brilliantly, but we have to grab those chances. We were under no real pressure at the time... You can't really drop those sitters when you're on the way to winning the game and you are desperate to win the game."

The tourists started the final day at 45 for one with the options of playing for a face-saving draw or playing for a win to save the series after losing the first Test in Christchurch by eight wickets.

Faint hopes of a remarkable win vanished early when Boult removed nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad for six before continuing his dominance of Sangakkara to dismiss the Sri Lankan legend for five.

Bracewell finished the pre-lunch session with the crucial wicket of Kaushal Silva for 50 and then Mathews for eight with the Sri Lankan skipper well caught one-handed by a diving Williamson in the gully.

Williamson was back in action after lunch to partner Craig in the dismissal of Prasanna Jayawardene for 10 as the spinner came into his own with a three-wicket burst. He removed Dinesh Chandimal (13) and Rangana Herath in successive balls.

Bracewell celebrated his recall to the New Zealand team after 14 months in the wilderness with two for 25 and ran out Suranga Lakmal for six. Boult, New Zealand's premier bowler, finished with two for 55.

New Zealand have now won four and drawn two of their last six series, last tasting a series defeat away against England in May 2013.

Scoreboard at the close on day five:

New Zealand 1st innings
221 (K. Williamson 69; N. Pradeep 4-63, S. Lakmal 3-71)

Sri Lanka 1st innings 356 (K. Sangakkara 203, D. Chandimal 67; J. Neesham 3-42, D. Bracewell 3-93)

New Zealand 2nd innings 524-5 dec (K. Williamson 242 not out, B. Watling 142 not out; N. Pradeep 3-117)

Sri Lanka 2nd innings (overnight 45-1)

D. Karunaratne c Rutherford b Craig 17
K. Silva c Craig b Bracewell 50
D. Prasad c Neesham b Boult 6
K. Sangakkara c Watling b Boult 5
L. Thirimanne not out  62
A. Mathews c Williamson b Bracewell 8
P. Jayawardene c Williamson b Craig 10
D. Chandimal c Watling b Craig 13
R. Herath lbw Craig  0
S. Lakmal run out (Bracewell) 6
N. Pradeep b Southee  1
Extras (b8 lb6, w3, nb1) 18
Total (10 wickets, 72.4 overs) 196
Fall of wicket: 1-42 (Karunaratne), 2-51 (Prasad), 3-61 (Sangakkara), 4-94 (Silva), 5-110 (Mathews), 6-133 (Jayawardene), 7-156 (Chandimal), 8-156 (Herath), 9-189 (Lakmal), 10-196 (Pradeep)
Bowling: Boult 21-2-55-2 (1w), Southee 17.4-6-41-1, Bracewell 13-3-25-2 (1nb, 2w), Craig 18-8-53-4, Rutherford 1-0-2-0, Williamson 2-0-6-0
Toss: Sri Lanka
Result: New Zealand won by 193 runs
Series: New Zealand won 2-0
Umpires: Steve Davis (AUS), Richard Illingworth (ENG)
TV umpire: Bruce Oxenford (AUS)
Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)