WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Lanky fast bowler Blair Tickner and spinner Michael Bracewell slogged all day in a Basin Reserve gale to bowl New Zealand to an innings and 58 run win over Sri Lanka in the second test Monday and a sweep of the two-match series.
The win was completed with only minutes remaining on the fourth day and capped New Zealand’s extraordinary summer of home test matches, which includes a one-run win over England at the Basin Reserve and a two-wicket win over Sri Lanka from the last ball of the first test.
Once again New Zealand couldn’t win without drama as it pursued Sri Lanka’s last two wickets in fading light and a blustering wind on Monday. Had it not bowled out Sri Lanka, it would have had to have returned to try to do so on the final day, when rain was forecast in Wellington.
Sri Lanka’s last two pairs defied the New Zealand bowlers for almost two hours before the home team secured the wickets it needed for victory. New Zealand had to bowl 142 overs to dismiss Sri Lanka in the second innings, after bowling 67 in the first innings before enforcing the follow on.
Dhanahaya de Silva made 98 and Dinesh Chandimal 62 to help Sri Lanka bat throughout all but a few minutes of the final day. Kusal Rajitha then batted for 2-1/2 hours, Prabath Jayasuriya and Lahiru Kumara for an hour each as the Sri Lanka tail gallantly tried to force the match into the fifth day when weather might intervene. Southee took 3-21.
New Zealand claimed an extra half hour as the light faded and Rajitha’s long vigil ended when he fell to Tim Southee for 20 as Sri Lanka was all out for 358.
“Losing the toss and being asked to bat and being able to put a score on the board was very pleasing to see, and set up the performance the bowlers produced over the last two days,” New Zealand captain Tim Southee said.
“There are few weary bodies tonight so it’s good to have that extra day off. We thought if we could put that one last push in tonight it was one less warm-up to do tomorrow.”
Double centuries by Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls allowed New Zealand to post 580-4 in its only innings before it bowled out Sri Lanka for 164 and enforced the follow with the tourists 416 behind.
New Zealand came into the fourth day in a commanding position: Sri Lanka was 113-2 when play begain, still 303 runs behind, and New Zealand found itself in a race to complete the win against the possibility of a rained-out final day.
Dhananjay’as partnerships with Chandimal and Nishan Madushka occupied most of the first two sessions and frustrated New Zealand. On both occasions Tickner was the partnership breaker.
After batting through the first session, Chandimal threw his wicket away with the scoreboard clock showing a few minutes to lunch. Tickner bowled a moderately short ball to Chandimal which rose to about chest height and the batter showed a rare rush of blood, hitting out and pulling the ball to Doug Bracewell on the square leg boundary.
Dhananjaya found a new partner in Nishan Madushka, the wicketkeeper-batsman on test debut.
They stayed together for most of the middle session before Madushka was out just before tea. He had batted with great application and restraint for 39, and with Dhananjaya had reduced the deficit to 98. But with the tea break only two balls away he lashed out at Tickner and was caught by Southee at midwicket, ending a partnership worth 76.
In the first over after tea, Dhanjaya’s gallant innings ended at 98. He had held the Sri Lanka innings together throughout the fourth day and lit the flame of hope that New Zealand might have to bat again.
But he moved to off and tried to sweep Michael Bracewell behind square and hit the ball from the toe of the bat to Henry Nicholls at short leg. He had batted for four and a half hours and was one of four batters to make a half century in the innings, a first for Sri Lanka against New Zealand.
Tickner then took a tricky catch at short fine leg to dismiss Jayasuriya (2) off Michael Bracewell. The ball looped up and was buffeted by the wind before Tickner secured a two-handed catch. Jayasuriya faced 32 balls before getting off the mark.
Tickner bowled 26 overs to take 3-84 and Michael Bracewell bowled 42 overs and took 2-100 in marathon efforts.