Christchurch - Neil Wagner captured the wicket of in-form
Sri Lanka batsman Kusal Mendis to revive New Zealand's spirits as they fought
to wrap up the series-deciding second Test in Christchurch on Saturday.
Sri Lanka were also hampered by an injury to Angelo Mathews
who appeared to tweak a hamstring and could only hobble for the last 10 minutes
Wagner's vital strike ended a significant 117-run stand by
Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal who had defied the New Zealand attack for 53 overs.
With Sri Lanka set an improbable 660-run target, they went
to tea on day four at 155 for three, leaving them with seven wickets remaining
to bat through the final four sessions.
Chandimal's no-risk approach saw him take 172 deliveries to
reach his 17th half century and at tea he was on 56 with the injured Angelo
Mathews on 22 while Mendis was out for 67.
Mendis, who in the course of his innings became only the
second player behind India's Virat Kohli to score 1 000 runs this year, showed
admirable patience to survive the morning session against the swing and seam of
Trent Boult and Tim Southee.
But as the pitch flattened under a strong sun the
23-year-old came undone when faced with Wagner.
After sending down a barrage that forced Mendis onto the
back foot, the New Zealand left-armer switched to a full-length delivery which
the frustrated batsman could not resist.
His drive was expertly grasped by substitute fielder Matt
Henry diving low to his left at extra cover.
New Zealand, pushing to win a fourth consecutive series for
the first time, had earlier missed a genuine opportunity to remove Chandimal.
When the Sri Lankan skipper ran a risky single in the fourth
over after lunch, Jeet Raval pounced on the ball at square leg but was astray
with his throw at the stumps when a direct hit would have found Chandimal out
of his crease.
Mathews looked in considerable discomfort after pulling up
lame when completing a run.
He was attended to by the team physio but could only manage
a shuffle between the wickets in the remaining three overs before the break.
After Sri Lanka resumed the day at 24 for two they put on 65
in the morning session and 66 for the loss of one wicket between lunch and tea.