New Zealand opener Tom Latham’s defiant knock of 111 not-out put his team in a somewhat commanding position at the stumps of the third day’s play of the second test. The Kane Williamson-led side finished the day at 196/4, trailing by 48 runs in the first innings.
The final session’s play belonged entirely to the visitors, thanks to the gritty stay of Latham. Sri Lanka were hoping to get the batsmen out by the end of the day so that they could have fresh go at the Kiwi tailenders on day four. However, Latham had other plans as he blunted the efforts of the hosts. Joined by wicket-keeper BJ Watling, the duo started the rebuilding process of their innings after the visitors were reduced to 126/4.
Left-handed Latham, however, had to survive quite a few close LBW calls while attempting his trademark sweep shot. Regardless, he continued with his dominance and showcased expelary footworks against the Sri Lankan spinner during his course of play. With a classic pull off a delivery from Dilruwan Perrera, he reached his 10th Test century to soak in all the applause coming in from his teammates. Watling, too, grew on confidence an opened his arms against the lose deliveries as he went on to share an unbeaten stand of 70 with Latham.
The post-Lunch sesion had seen the Lankan bowling trio of Perrera, Lasith Embuldeniya and Lahiru Kumara take a wicket each to rattle the backbone of Blackcaps’ batting. Opener Jeet Raval was the first batsman head towards pavilion after edging a tossed-up delivery from Perrera to first slip. Skipper Williamson extended his dismal tour as he got out at 20 as he edged a scrambled seam ball from Kumara to the slip cordon. Down at 34/2, Latham and Ross taylor shared a vital partnership of 50 to steady the Kiwis’ ship to some extend. However, the number four batsman was not stay long and edged an Embuldeniya-delivery towards the slip fielder.
The day had started on a brighter note as the play began on time, unlike the first two days where the start got delayed due to rain. Dhananjaya and Perrera had added some 41 crucial runs to the Lankan account. But the New Zealand bowlers struck back nicely to get the tailenders out and and bundle the home team out at 244 in the 91st over.