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  5. 1st Test, Day 3: Tom Latham's record-breaking 264* leaves Sri Lanka staring at huge defeat

1st Test, Day 3: Tom Latham's record-breaking 264* leaves Sri Lanka staring at huge defeat

Latham's score was the highest by any batsman who has carried his bat in Test history.

Reported by: AP Wellington Published on: December 17, 2018 14:30 IST
new zealand vs sri lanka test series
Image Source : AP

Tom Latham celebrates after scoring 200 during Day 3 of the 1st Test between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Wellington.

Opener Tom Latham carried his bat for more than 11-1/2 hours and 157 overs to make a record-breaking 264 in the first innings of 578 which put New Zealand in charge of the first cricket test against Sri Lanka after day three on Monday.

Latham's score was the highest by any batsman who has carried his bat in Test history.

With his steadfast effort, New Zealand gained a 296-run lead as it replied to Sri Lanka's first innings of 282. In 12 overs before stumps, Sri Lanka's hopes of a fightback were dashed as it lost both openers and a nightwatchman to end the day at 20-3, 276 behind.

Trent Boult dismissed opener Danushka Gunathilaka lbw for 3, Southee bowled nightwatchman Dhnanjaya de Silva for a duck, and Boult claimed a catch from Southee's bowling to dismiss Dimuth Karunaratne for 10 when Sri Lanka was 13-3.

First innings top-scorer Angelo Mathews received a blow on the hand and was subjected to a barrage of short-pitched bowling but made it to stumps on 2 not out, while Kusal Mendis was on 5.

New Zealand owed its dominant position mostly to Latham, who was only the second New Zealander and the first man in the country to carry his bat for the duration of a Test innings.

His maiden test double century made him the 23rd New Zealander to reach 200 in that form of the game. His was the sixth-highest score by a New Zealander in test matches, and the highest by an opener at the Basin Reserve. He surpassed his previous Test-best of 177, scored on the same ground against the West Indies almost two years ago which was also the latest of his six previous test centuries.

Latham's 264 eclipses the previous best score by a player carrying his bat, the unbeaten 244 of England's Alastair Cook against Australia at the MCG last December.

"Obviously it was pleasing to stick it out for most of the day and put a really competitive total on the board," Latham said. "It was nice that we managed to keep long partnerships.

"That was something we talked about as a batting group, just stacking up those long partnerships, and that's something we managed to do.

"Those milestones are nice, though they're not the milestones you look to get. I'm more happy about the team doing really well as a batting unit, to come from the (United Arab Emirates, where New Zealand beat Pakistan in its most-recent series) to these batting conditions and to put up a really good score is very pleasing."

Latham said he had no thought of the records that were falling as he occupied the crease for most of the second and third days.

"I had no idea around that sort of stuff but when you pick those sort of things off it's very nice, I'm sure, later on in life," he said.

Latham had made only one half-century in his previous nine innings but grew in stature through a series of sturdy partnerships that built New Zealand's formidable first innings. He put on 59 for the first wicket with Jeet Raval (43), 162 for the second with captain Kane Williamson (91), 91 for the third with Ross Taylor (50), 114 for the fourth with Henry Nicholls (50) and 73 for the sixth with Colin de Grandhomme (49).

The only man to miss out among the New Zealand batsmen was wicketkeeper B.J. Watling who was out for a six-ball duck, though the contribution of the tail was only slight.

Sri Lanka toiled gamely in the field in conditions which favored the batting side, dismissing Taylor with only the fourth ball of the day to a brilliant catch at short leg by Karunaratne. The tourists claimed the wickets of Nicholls, Watling and de Grandhomme in the second session then wrapped up the tail with relative alacrity while Latham batted on and on.

The damage Sri Lanka suffered in the 12 overs before stumps must have been a mighty blow to its morale. They will resume on Tuesday in conditions that will still favor batsmen but with a huge task ahead of it to force New Zealand to bat again.


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