New Zealand ended day 4 of the 2nd ICC Test Championship game against Sri Lanka on 382/5, adding 186 runs to their overnight score of 196/4 on a rain-hit day. The visitors lead by 138 runs, going into day 5.
More rain during the early part of the day meant play on day 4 could only begin at 1.40pm local time. BJ Watling and day 3 centurion Tom Latham continued from where they left off, looking comfortable against both pace and spin.
The pair added 73 runs to the overnight score, before a rare miss from Latham saw him dismissed lbw by off-spinner Dilruwan Perera for 154. A 99-run opening session signaled New Zealand’s intent on what looked like a pitch that was offering little to nothing.
Colin de Grandhomme used the long handle to good effect in the post-tea session, racing to 50 off just 45 deliveries, breathing life into a game which looked like it was heading for a draw. The big man took a liking to the left arm spin of Lasith Embuldeniya in particular, smashing 2 sixes and a four off the youngster in the 19-run 99th over of the visitors’ innings. He did have his share of luck however, when Dinesh Chandimal, on the field for the injured Niroshan Dickwella, put down a tough chance behind the stumps when de Grandhomme was on 13 – Embuldeniya the unlucky bowler, who would eventually go on to bear the brunt of de Grandhomme’s attack.
The Sri Lankans looked flat in the field as the conditions and New Zeland’s batting offered no respite. De Grandhomme and Watling put on 113 runs for the 6th wicket, with the former doing the bulk of the scoring as he finished with 83 off 75 deliveries, inclusive of 5x4s and 5x6s.
Sri Lanka were dealt a heavy blow on day 4 when it was revealed that skipper Dimuth Karunaratne had suffered a quadricep tear in the field last afternoon. With the time he’s been off the field, Karunaratne will also be unable to open the batting – having to come in at No. 7 or lower as the law dictates.
Niroshan Dickwella too did not take the field today, having injured his right pinkie finger while gathering a delivery from Lahiru Kumara yesterday.
After losing the 1st Test, New Zealand were intent on forcing the pace in the game, in a bid to get a win which would translate to 60 Test Championship points. The Sri Lankan weather did not come to their aid, but the Kiwis did the maximum they could in the time available on day 4 to ensure they still had a chance of winning the game, albeit a small one, going into the final day.