Dominant New Zealand close on series sweep of Sri Lanka
The tourists reached 113-2 in their second innings at stumps on day three but still trailed by 303 runs at Wellington's Basin Reserve. They need a massive turnaround to avoid defeat after being skittled out for 164 in their first innings in response to the Black Caps' 580-4 declared. Starting off with a deficit of 416 runs, they showed more fight in their second turn at bat. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne posted his second half-century of the day before being dismissed by counterpart Tim Southee for 51, caught in the deep after fellow-opener Oshada Fernando had been removed cheaply. Kusal Mendis was at the crease on 50 and Angelo Mathews unbeaten on one off 40 balls, with the pair seeing off the last 11.5 overs in stoic fashion. A marathon fight to save the Test still awaits the visitors, whose slim hope of winning to square the two-match series was effectively ended by a slew of rash shots which derailed their first innings. Sri Lanka's tail succumbed rapidly during a chaotic second session, with the last six wickets tumbling for 50 runs in the space of 15.1 overs despite the wicket playing relatively true. Only three batters reached double figures in the first innings, including Karunaratne, who was the ninth man out for 89. The gritty opener had looked to be digging the visitors out of a deep hole when he and Dinesh Chandimal put on 80 for the fifth wicket after the loss of two wickets in the day's opening half-hour reduced them to 34-4. However, Chandimal was stumped for 34 off Michael Bracewell after charging down the track soon after tea, sparking the slump. Offspinner Bracewell then removed Dhananjaya de Silva in his next over and later dismissed Karunaratne when he hit out, to finish with 3-50. Seamer Matt Henry claimed 3-44, including wicketkeeper Nishan Madushka, who scored 19 on his Test debut. Kasun Rajitha was run out and Asitha Fernando was the last wicket to fall, both for ducks, ending Sri Lanka's sixth-lowest innings total on New Zealand soil. Black Caps captain Southee had no hesitation asking his opponents to bat again, even though that tactic backfired less than a month ago when England enforced the follow-on midway through the second Test against the Black Caps at the Basin Reserve. New Zealand went on to win that match, becoming just the fourth team in Tests to prevail after following-on. The Black Caps are chasing their third Test victory in a row, following their dramatic two-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Test at Christchurch, which was sealed on the final ball.