There were jitters at the end of the 4th day’s play with 45 runs required and only one recognised pair left but New Zealand had well set Kane Williamson, who was well set at one end. With the help of BJ Watling, the pair steered the Kiwis home, finishing the year on a high and taking the series 2-0. Williamson completed his century and ended the calender year with 2633 runs, the fourth highest registered in a year and soared in the batting charts, posing serious threat to the Steve Smith-Joe Root duopoly at the top. Dushmanta Chameera’s efforts ended in vain though.
The Sri Lankan pacer ended with nine wickets in the match and troubled the New Zealand batsman throughout at Hamilton. There were sturdy batting displays on the first day’s play by the visitors, with skipper Angelo Mathews leading by example. He was well supported by rookie Milinda Siriwardana. Sri Lanka’s brittle lower middle-order though, stood in the way of victory as they lost their last six wickets for just 33 runs. New Zealand had a batting collapse of their own.
Martin Guptill and Tom Latham got the Black Caps to 81 without no loss but they lost their way and Chameera was lethal, ripping through the middle order. New Zealand scored marginally better where the Lankans failed and their lower order, stewarded by Doug Bracewell got the score past 200. Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne were cruising in the second innings before the entire team, barring Siriwardana crumbled early on day four.
Being in a commanding position at one stage — at 71 for no loss — the 2nd innings freefall would go on to have far more devastating effects on the team. They lost their entire side for just 62 runs with Tim Southee leading by example. Bracewell and Neil Wagner chipped in too and the Lankans were bundled out for 133.
On a pitch that was never the easiest to bat on, a target of 189 was stiff and Chameera was yet again spot on. There was panic as the openers fell early, reducing the score to 11 for two. Williamson, with Ross Taylor steadied the ship but going after Chameera, the Kiwis paid the price as Taylor, skipper Brendon McCullum and Mitchell Santner fell just before the close of play.
Williamson was set at one end though and ended the day with an unbeaten 78. Picking up the New Zealand No 3’s wicket would have sent panic in the ranks but he was cautious and calculative, combined with his trademark staunchness and calm to reach his 13th century. Watling hit the winning runs at Hamilton and McCullum picked up his 11th Test win as skipper, putting him only second behind Stephen Fleming in the Test charts. Run-machine Williamson, quite obviously was awarded the Man-of-the-Match.
Sri Lanka 292 (Dinesh Chandimal 47, Angelo Mathews 77, Milinda Siriwardana 62; Tim Southee 3 for 63; Trent Boult 2 for 51) & 133 (Dimuth Karunaratne 26, Kusal Mendis 46; Tim Southee 4 for 26, Neil Wagner 3 for 40) lost to New Zealand 237 (Martin Guptill 50, Mitchell Santner 38, Doug Bracewell 35*; Dushmanta Chameera 5 for 47, Nuwan Pradeep 2 for 39) & 189 for 5 (Kane Willamson 108*, Ross Taylor 35; Dushmanta Chameera 4 for 68)