Written by Staff Writer
29 Dec, 2014 | 9:42 am
It had to be black magic. Tim Southee and Trent Boult were swinging a 70-over old ball. Both ways. That skill accounted for 13 of the 20 Sri Lankan wickets and confirmed Brendon McCullum’s Boxing Day assault as match-winning. Christchurch witnessed New Zealand’s fifth victory in 2014, marking it as their best year in Test history.
A target of 105 appeared straightforward, but Sri Lanka were adamant to create a few nervous moments along the way.
A fluent Tom Latham was undone by a ripping turner from debutant offspinner Tharindu Kaushal and Hamish Rutherford was surprised by Shaminda Eranga’s extra bounce to lob a catch to gully.
Sri Lanka strove hard for further inroads. Ross Taylor and Williamson, though, were resolute secured the Test in the seventh over after tea on the fourth day.
The visitors had begun the day 10 runs behind and five wickets in hand and their best chance was if Angelo Mathews could shepherd the tail. But even he was unprepared for the bouncer, feathering an edge to the keeper off a front-foot pull off the 19th delivery he faced on the fourth morning.
Kaushal, the nightwatchman, managed a couple of pleasing strokes through square leg and cover off the front foot before a short ball in the off-stump corridor did him. He was caught in two minds and before he could pull the bat away, the edge flew to Mark Craig at second slip to give Southee his first strike of the morning.
Dhammika Prasad was reluctant to get in line for most of his 17 balls and was not ready when Southee sprung the trap with the fuller length – twice. Ross Taylor grassed an absolute dolly, but before his face could grow red another came his way and he converted it.
Sri Lanka actually did well to stay standing till lunch and their final-wicket pair even forced the umpires to take a half hour’s extension. The lead had been 17 when Mathews was dismissed, but Eranga and Suranga Lakmal conjured 59 runs in 57 balls. Their clear-the-front-leg-and-swing tactic frustrated New Zealand as they either watched the ball skirt past the outside edge or skim to the cow corner boundary. Boult broke through and earned himself and his fellow bowlers some well-deserved rest after 196 testing overs across the two innings.
Brendon McCullum received the man of the match award ofr the great knock of 195 in the first innings.
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