The morning was washed out and only 48 overs of play were possible in Colombo, but they were enough for New Zealand to take a comfortable lead heading into the final day.
New Zealand resumed the day on 196/4 in response to Sri Lanka’s 244, with Latham on 111 and Watling on 25. Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews had the chance to dismiss Latham early on, but reacted too slowly at second slip. He would be made to regret the error as the game drifted decisively away from them.
Latham kicked on to 154, a calm and professional innings that barely offered Sri Lanka a chance. He finally departed to a ball from Dilwuran Perera, the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, that skidded into his pads. It was the only thing Sri Lanka could celebrate all day.
Colin de Grandhomme joined Watling at the crease, with his team needing quick runs to force a chance at victory. De Grandhomme obliged, smashing five sixes in an unbeaten 83 from 75 balls, including two off consecutive deliveries against Lasith Embuldeniya. Watling had been on 55 when de Grandhomme came in just before tea. By the end of the shortened day’s play, de Grandhomme had overtaken him. Together with Watling, who finished on 81, the pair put on an unbroken partnership of 113.
Darkness and drizzle brought play to a close earlier than expected, bringing with them the likelihood that this will be the first drawn Test in 25 matches here in Sri Lanka. That would mean thirty points each, and a fortuitous series win for the home side.
New Zealand lead by 138 going into the final day. They will be looking for de Grandhomme to pick up where he left off, and to bowl Sri Lanka out for under 200. Helpfully for the black caps, Dimuth Karunaratne will be unable to bat any higher than seven, a quadriceps tear preventing him from taking the field at all today.
The forecast tomorrow doesn’t look promising, but if the New Zealand bowlers can perform as well as their batters did today, they’ll be in with a decent shot.
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