SRI LANKA TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND, 2023
Williamson, Nicholls tour de force leaves Sri Lanka gasping
by crickethighlights.one Staff • Last updated on Sat, Mar 18, 2023
Kane Williamson (215) scored his sixth Test match double hundred while Henry Nicholls (200*) got his first as the pair put on a mammoth 363-run stand to leave Sri Lanka staring from the base of a mountain of runs at the Basin Reserve. After a truncated opening day to start the Wellington Test, Day 2 saw the hosts rack up 425 runs in 75 overs at a rate of 5.67 to the over before declaring their innings at 580/4 late in the final session. After chasing leather for a good portion of two days, Sri Lanka slipped further behind in the game when they lost Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis in the 17 overs before Stumps.
The stories of the day were undoubtedly the twin double tons, the fifth-highest partnership in New Zealand’s Test history as well as the ease and speed with which the aforementioned feats were achieved. However, there was also contrast in the backdrop to the two double centuries. Williamson arrived here having reeled off Test Ton Nos. 26 and 27 in his last two games, the more recent one coming in New Zealand’s thrilling victory in Christchurch. On the other hand, Nicholls’ last 50+ score in the New Zealand whites had come 16 innings ago.
And so it showed in a partnership between the two that Williamson dominated allowing his under-fire batter to build slowly. The Basin Reserve pitch was a willing ally to their cause, it’s greenish tinge serving mostly as deception to its mostly true nature. It had quickened up after a truncated opening day too, rendering hitting thorugh the line an easy proposition. The signs were ominous for the visitors at the start of an extended morning session with 29 runs coming off the first five overs.
Lead fast bowlers Kasun Rajitha and Asith Fernando didn’t help Sri Lanka’s cause by bowling too short and then overcompensating for it with half-volleys that Williamson and Nicholls put away in style. The plan changed when Lahiru Kumara came into the attack. But Sri Lanka’s short-ball ploy didn’t serve them too well either. Williamson pulled Kumara for back-to-back sixes although the first of the two had come in slightly fortuitous fashion, off a top-edge. The second though was dispatched outside the stadium.
At the other end, Nicholls dealt with the 6-3 leg-side field by backing away and punching balls through the vacant spaces in the offside. With the pacers bleeding runs on either side of the wicket, captain Dimuth Karunaratne turned towards his spinners Dhananjaya de Silva and Prabath Jayasuriya for control. By now though the fields were well spread out and singles were readily available for the taking.
Williamson completed 8000 Test runs and subsequently got to his century with his 10th four, a drive through extra cover off de Silva. He then proceeded to hit the offspinner for two more boundaries. The closest Sri Lanka came to a wicket in the first session was right at the stroke of the Lunch break when the returning Rajitha managed to cut one back into Williamson, but the ball bounced just over the Stumps.
If the wicketless first session saw New Zealand score their 149 runs at 4.38, the second saw the pair plunder 139 runs at 5.39. In the post-Lunch period Williamson raced away from 113 to 189 almost unnoticed while Nicholls got to his drought-ending century. The left-hander offered a big chance when on 92, a second after being reprieved on 6 yesterday, when he punched a de Silva delivery tamely back to the bowler. The offspinner, however, couldn’t hold on and duly conceded a boundary off the very next delivery. Nicholls got to his ninth Test century soon after and kicked into overdrive thereafter.
Williamson completed his double century straight after the Tea interval and was dismissed for 215 after an attempted lofted hit off Prabath Jayasuriya found the fielder at long-on. It brought an end to a 363-run stand for the third wicket but Sri Lanka’s travails continued. Daryl Mitchell walked out and put on 49 off just 30 balls for the fourth wicket. At the other end, Nicholls passed 150 and marked his feat by swinging Rajitha over deep mid-wicket for a six. The left-hander now began to walk across his crease and club deliveries all around the ground. He hit two sixes and four fours and scored his final 50 runs off just 28 deliveries before getting to his maiden Test double with a gentle push towards square leg for a single. Tim Southee called his team in right at the end of that 123rd over.
At that point, Sri Lanka would have been happy to call time on the day’s play. But the timing of the New Zealand skipper’s declaration had them survive 17 overs before Stumps. It went about as well as one would have hoped from a team that had been run ragged. Matt Henry bowled a probing spell and had Oshada Fernando feeling for a delivery outside off stump and nick off to the wicket-keeper. Doug Bracewell then dismissed Kusal Mendis for a duck with what was a loosener that Mendis cut fiercely only to see Devon Conway complete a leaping catch at backward point. Sri Lanka ended the day 554 behind and needing a miracle to come back into this game.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 26/2 (Doug Bracewell 1-1, Matt Henry 1-15) trail New Zealand 580/4 decl. (Kane Williamson 215, Henry Nicholls 200*; Kasun Rajitha 2-126) by 554 runs