Sri Lanka trailed New Zealand by 303 runs with eight wickets left in their second innings after following on Sunday on the third day of the second cricket test at the Basin Reserve.
After declaring at 580-4 on the second day, New Zealand bowled out Sri Lanka for 164 in its first innings and was able to enforce the follow-on at the same ground on which it beat England by one run after following on last month.
At stumps, Sri Lanka was 113-2 with Kusal Mendis 50 not out and Angelo Mathews on one.
Mendis made a 10-ball duck in the first innings but reached his 17th half century from 96 balls just before the end of play.
Captain Dimuth Karunaratne played a massive role for Sri Lanka Sunday and was at the crease for much of the third day.
He was there when play began and Sri Lanka was 26-2 and, after top-scoring with 89, his was the penultimate wicket to fall before Sri Lanka’s first innings ended 416 runs behind New Zealand.
Karunaratne then went back to the crease and batted through most of the last two sessions before he was out for the second time in the day a little more than 30 minutes before stumps. In total he batted for just over seven hours and his efforts provided the backbone of both Sri Lanka innings so far.
Sri Lanka lost two wickets in the first five overs of the third day and had slumped to 34-4 before Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal were able to steady the first innings. The pair put on 80 for the fifth wicket and Karunaratne reached his 33rd half century from 114 balls.
Chandimal made 37 before a rush of blood to the head caused him to charge spinner Michael Bracewell. He had advanced well out of his crease when the ball turned between bat and pad and Tom Blundell completed an easy stumping.
Bracewell found turn and bounce on the third day pitch at the Basin Reserve and took 3-50 as the Sri Lanka first innings folded quickly after Chandimal’s dismissal. The last six wickets fell for 50 runs.
“I think coming out this morning the goal was to get 10 wickets and assess where we are then. To enforce the follow on and have them two down, we’re really happy with that,” New Zealand seamer Matt Henry said.
“I think the bowlers were clear (about the follow-on). You ask what’s the best way to win the test match and I think it was a bit of a no-brainer. We were all feeling fresh and confident that we could get the job done.”
New Zealand gained an early breakthrough in the second innings when opener Oshada Fernando was out for 5 with the total 26-1. With the bat well in front of his body, Fernando tried to flick the ball over the leg side but picked out substitute fieldsman Will Young who was the only fielder close in.
Karunaratne reached his second half century of the match, in fact of the day, from 81 balls. He started the day with 32 test 50s and finished with 34.
But he was out just after reaching the milestone, pulling a short ball from Tim Southee to Devon Conway on the boundary at deep mid-wicket.
The crowd at the Basin Reserve has now seen two consecutive tests in which the follow-on was enforced. New Zealand was on the receiving end in the second test against England last month, but managed to make England bat again and bowled out the tourists to claim a famous one run victory.
After New Zealand’s two wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first test which was achieved off the final ball of the match, New Zealand fans have been treated to two extraordinary tests. Whether the current test adds another chapter to a sensational summer will be determined one way or another on the fourth day Monday.
To add possible drama, rain is forecast in the afternoon.