After a brave resistance, Sri Lanka faced the inevitable. The deficit on the first innings was far too huge for the islanders to bring off any other result that was dominated by Brendon McCullum’s sledgehammer knock. Sri Lanka resumed from the overnight 293/5 and could only reach 407 with a dogged 59-run last wicket stand between Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal. That gave the Kiwis an easy 105-run target with plenty of time remaining on the fourth day. New Zealand lost two early wickets but Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor ensured an 8-wicket victory for the hosts. The emotional Christchurch crowd welcomed the triumphant return of cricket to the city and went into celebrations. At Port Elizabeth, the second test match between South Africa and the West Indies continued to be dictated by bad weather. If it was rain on the second day, bad light accompanied rain on the third day. South Africa finally finished their first innings at 417/8 declared with Dale Styen’s swashbuckling 58 off 28 balls. At as the day ended, West Indies had scored 147/2 after early shakedown. The Caribbean visitors have a chance to draw the test if Brathwaite and Samuels keep batting for a while longer on the fourth day.
At Christchurch, Sri Lanka’s defiance lasted for 29 overs on the fourth day morning. Tim Southee and Trent Boult were able to obtain swing even with a 70-over old ball and Sri Lanka batsmen found difficult to score against them. The night-watchman Kaushal was snapped up by Southee in the 129th over even as he tried to let go off a ball. He couldn’t remove his bat in time and yielded a simple catch to the second slip. Sri Lanka’s best chance was their captain Angelo Mathews but even he didn’t know how to deal with a Southee bouncer that elicited an edge to the wicketkeeper as he attempted a pull. Soon the Lankan tail began to wag and when Dhammika Prasad was also consumed by Southee, the end looked imminent with the score standing at 325/8. But Prasanna Jayawardane and Shaminda Eranga defied the kiwi bowlers for a while and added 23 for the 9th wicket. Sri Lanka’s best show in the second innings was reserved for the last-wicket partnership between Eranga and Lakmal. They added to the Sri Lankan lead, batted until lunch and forced the umpires to take a 30-minute extension. Just when everything seemed easy for New Zealand, Eranga and Lakmal realized a 59-run stand. They avoided the Kiwi trap of front-leg swing and found other avenues to collect their runs. Finally, however, Boult broke the stand by a short ball, to which Lakmal got a leading edge.
Sri Lanka’s 407 gave New Zealand a 105 run victory target but Sri Lanka had not finished yet. In the sixth over Kaushal sent down a tempting delivery to Tom Latham, who had to play but all he got was an edge to the slip. In the 11th over, Eranga removed Hamish Rutherford to make it 43/2 for New Zealand. However, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor played patiently to complete the 8-wicket victory for the hosts.
At Port Elizabeth, South Africa declared their first innings at 417/8 declared. Beginning the day at 289/3, South Africa lost 5 wickets for just 59 runs as West Indies bowlers pushed the Proteas. At 348/7, Dale Styen walked in and thrashed the West Indian bowlers in T20 fashion, while his partner, Vernon Philander enjoyed at the other end. In 28 balls, Steyn whacked 6 fours and 5 sixes to finish with 58 and once he got out Hashim Amla declared.
When West Indies came to bat, Morne Morkel removed two batsmen off successive balls in the 17th over. Afterwards, however, it was only an endless toil for South African bowlers as Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels took command. The two batsmen didn’t get separated until the day’s end. They have already put on 92 for the third wicket and if they continue further on the fourth morning, they can take the match away from South Africa’s grasp.
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