Openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne set a solid platform for Sri Lanka in Galle and finished the fourth day of the first Test 135 runs after reaching the 268 goal.
Karunaratne and Thirimanne combined to an undivided score of 133 and thwarted all attempts by the kiwi bowlers to find their way back into the game.
Although Galle’s deteriorating surface offered a variety to the New Zealand spinners, they were unable to win a wicket for 50 overs. The opener mixed caution with a free-flowing approach and collected the runs without major problems.
If they manage to complete the remaining runs, this will be the first successful chase in the 100+ area, with the best of Sri Lanka against Pakistan in 2014 at 99.
Earlier, lower-order resistance kept the bowling in Sri Lanka in check and extended New Zealand’s lead to 267.
Lunch at Galle 🥗— ICC (@ICC) August 17, 2019
New Zealand have fought back brilliantly to garner a decent lead. Sri Lanka have five sessions to get 268 to win. Can they?#SLvNZ LIVE 👇 https://t.co/tk1bG2fLyn pic.twitter.com/ecQCidRcPj
New Zealand duo BJ Watling and William Somerville continued their overnight 195/7 record after gaining 177 laps after the rain forced the fourth day off to a delayed start.
Watling was only able to add 14 runs to his 63 overnight stay rating and became Lahiru Kumara’s first wicket of the match and the first wicket to fall victim to a pacemaker in the innings. In a test in Sri Lanka, a kiwi wicketkeeper still scored the highest score.
Somerville, who finished in 8th place, then offered a stubborn resistance and scored 40 * in his highest score in the first class to increase the third innings score in New Zealand. He was well supported by the rest of the stern. The enterprising Trent Boult prevailed at 26, and Ajaz Patel, No. 11, scored his top mark at 14.
In response, Karunaratne and Thirimanne went out ahead of them with a clear target, but looked relaxed as they did their business.
The skipper leading by example for Sri Lanka!— ICC (@ICC) August 17, 2019
He has passed fifty and Sri Lanka are 90/0 chasing 268 to win the first Test against New Zealand.
Follow #SLvNZ 👇 https://t.co/tk1bG2fLyn pic.twitter.com/vcFQFJWqNk
Karunaratne was offered two lives within two overs – while Tom Latham could not cling to a hook on the short foreleg, BJ Watling stumped to reinforce New Zealand’s woes. Somerville, who responded to the help from above, had his moments with a few short calls, but still could not separate the duo. In particular, Thirimanne repeatedly shot at the spinners and denied the turn of the fourth matchday.
It was the first time since 20 innings that the openers of Sri Lanka had stitched together a century base for the first wicket. At 125, they reached the best opening level in Sri Lanka in the fourth inning, outperforming Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva in 2014.
Similar to the third day, the game had to be canceled much before the final set, with 13 Overs left before the scheduled stumps.