The second test showdown between the Black Caps and Sri Lanka has been an intriguing fight — a battle where the advantage has changed hands on several occasions, and which promises to have several more twists remaining. It is also a fight that may end without a winner – unless Tom Latham proves the difference maker. Able to complete only 66 overs on the first two days in Colombo, day three provided hope of a result being generated, but a brief burst of rain after tea was a reminder of the pesky impediment that will make it tough for either side to claim victory.
The Black Caps at least have an easier path to a test win thanks to Latham. They finished day three at 196-4, with the terrific Latham on 111 and BJ Watling on 25. They trail Sri Lanka by 48 runs, but get a full day's play today, and a good batting performance could produce a big enough lead to trouble Sri Lanka on a pitch that may hold some delights for the bowlers on the final day.
To get into even that moderately hopeful position, the Black Caps were forced to scrap, after an excellent lower-order display from the hosts. From 130-6, Sri Lanka battled their way through to 244, with Dhananjaya de Silva producing extremely valuable partnerships of 41 with Dilruwan Perera, 43 with Suranga Lakmal and 20 with last man Lahiru Kumara.
Trent Boult and Tim Southee eventually did the bulk of the damage for the Black Caps — the pair now have a combined 500 test wickets — but Boult will be left ruing his one blunder from his stint with the ball. Boult dropped one of the easiest catches in cricket history with de Silva — already beginning to walk off, so sure was he of his demise — on nine. The Sri Lankan all-rounder then punished the New Zealand bowlers to the tune of another 100 runs before Boult finally made belated amends and ended an excellent knock.