Wellington - Sri
Lanka's Angelo Mathews celebrated with push-ups on the pitch after
joining Kusal Mendis in passing 100 on Tuesday as the pair batted the whole
day without losing a wicket to offer the tourists hope of an unlikely
first Test draw in Wellington.
SCORECARD: New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 1st Test
Mendis was 116 not out at stumps on day four and Mathews 117, with
their record-breaking unbroken 246-run partnership setting a Sri Lankan
record against New Zealand.
It was also the first time in New Zealand that a full day's play has
been completed without a Test wicket falling and the first time anywhere
since South Africa achieved the feat against Bangladesh in Chittagong
The pair's epic vigil meant the tourists ended the day at 259 for
three after starting in a seemingly hopeless position with three wickets
down for just 20 in their second innings after conceding a first
innings deficit of 296 to New Zealand.
Sri Lanka still need a further 37 to avoid an innings defeat but with
a flat pitch offering nothing to New Zealand's seam attack and rain
threatening on the final day, a draw is now a real prospect.
New Zealand had hoped to wrap up the match early on the fourth day
after posting an imposing 578 in the first innings, anchored by Tom
Latham's unbeaten 264 - which eclipsed England captain Alastair Cook's
record 244, set just under a year ago in Melbourne, to become the
highest score by an opener carrying their bat in Test history.
But the home bowlers grew increasingly frustrated by the stubborn
rearguard action, resorting to a barrage of bouncers that failed to
rattle the batsmen.
A defiant Mathews sent them
a message that he still has plenty left in the tank with his push-up
celebration late in the final session.
Sri Lanka bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake said before play commenced
that his side needed to approach the final two days session-by-session
and try to chip away at New Zealand's lead.
Mendis, who made only two in the first innings, initially took a more
positive approach and went after short-ball specialist Neil Wagner.
He blasted four boundaries off Wagner in an entertaining period that
saw the paceman concede 35 runs in four overs before captain Kane
Williamson ended his spell.
After the brief flourish with the bat, Mendis was content to put up the shutters slow the scoring to a crawl.
Mathews, 31, who top-scored for Sri Lanka with 83 in the first
innings, eked out his ninth Test century off 248 balls, while Mendis
brought up his sixth Test ton off 215 deliveries.
The partnership will be a huge boost for Sri Lanka, ranked sixth in
the world, who have won only one Test match in Wellington in five
They have also lost their last five Tests against New Zealand and
suffered a 3-0 Test series whitewash against England last month.