Latham walked off P Saravanamuttu Stadium 111 not out at stumps on day three. In tough conditions it was an outstanding 10th Test century and fourth against Sri Lanka, the milestone reached off 169 balls. New Zealand was 196 for 4 in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings of 244. The host had Dhananjaya de Silva to thank for its total, his fifth Test hundred punishing Trent Boult’s caught and bowled blunder by exactly 100 runs. With close to 200 overs still available, assuming the rain stays away, things can move quickly and the pitch began to turn sharply in a difficult final period for Latham and BJ Watling who resume on Sunday trailing by 48.
If they can pinch a lead of 50-100 then hand it over to spin duo Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville New Zealand will have half a chance at a ground where the last 12 Tests have produced results, eight of them to the bowlfirst team. New Zealand need to push it, too, trailing 1-0 in the two-match series. Latham continued a remarkable run of Test scores, stretching back to that Basin Reserve marathon. His intervention was badly needed after the home spinners took an early grip and the Black Caps’ two batting kingpins departed, again, to uncharacteristically poor shot selection. Fellow opener Jeet Raval lasted just nine deliveries before he failed to cover Dilruwan Perera’s offspin and edged to slip.
BRIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 244 (1st innings) (Dhananjaya de Silva 109, T Southee 4/63) vs New Zealand (1st innings) 196/4 (Tom Latham 111*)