Tom Latham made 176 and Henry Nicholls 100 not out in a 214-run fourth-wicket stand which gave New Zealand a commanding 535-run lead over Sri Lanka at tea Friday on the third day of the second cricket test.
Latham was out to the last ball before the break after completing his eighth test century and his second in consecutive tests following his 264 in the first test at Wellington.
With the help of Nicholls, who reached his fourth century, he batted New Zealand into an impregnable position and made a declaration imminent. New Zealand was likely to send Sri Lanka back in during the final session, concerned only that the length of time remaining in the match — more than two full days — could make for a leisurely if not an easy run chase.
As Latham and Nicholls accumulated runs Friday, the Sri Lanka bowlers were forced to toil almost fruitlessly on a fading pitch which gave nothing to either seam or spin bowlers.
The only wicket to fall in the morning session was that of Ross Taylor, who was out lbw to Lahiru Chameera for 40. Chameera also accounted for Latham who was surprised down leg side by a ball which he flicked finely off his hip to the wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella.
When he was out, Latham had batted 574 minutes in another feat of concentration and endurance; he batted more than 11-1/2 hours for his 264 in the drawn first test at Wellington.
He had almost personally ensured New Zealand held complete control of the match as he built its second innings in partnerships of 121 for the first wicket with Jeet Raval (74), 68 for the second with Kane Williamson (48) and 58 for the third with Taylor.
His 218-minute association with Nicholls made New Zealand’s position formidable. Sri Lanka would have to achieve the highest winning fourth-innings total in tests — by a wide margin — to win the match and take the series.
Latham and Nicholls batted at an almost identical pace, rotating the strike and taking their runs judiciously through gaps in a wide-spread field.
Latham reached his century, watched by his father Rod who was also a New Zealand opening batsman, in 430 minutes, from 267 balls. Nicholls reached his from 171 balls in 203 minutes.
Both are from Canterbury province and are playing on their home ground at Hagley Oval.
Source: The Associated Press