Captain Dimuth Karunaratne scored 122 as Sri Lanka chased down 268 for the loss of just four wickets to win the first Test against New Zealand at Galle on Sunday and take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
Karunaratne posted his ninth Test hundred along with enjoying a record-equalling opening partnership of 161 with Lahiru Thirimanne, who made 64, as Sri Lanka collected their first points of the World Test Championship.
Former captain Angelo Mathews chipped in with an unbeaten 28 as Sri Lanka finished off the game before lunch after the morning session was extended because only 22 runs were needed at the scheduled time for the interval.
Karunaratne enjoyed some luck on the way to his century, dropped on 58 at forward short leg by Tom Latham while wicketkeeper BJ Watling missed a stumping chance on the same score. He batted for over five hours, facing 245 deliveries, and hit six fours and a six.
“Perhaps we didn’t have a lot go our way, and maybe the odd chance we let slip,” New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson told reporters.
“We knew that on that sort of surface if you are able to get a breakthrough things can happen quickly, as we saw later on today when perhaps the game was already lost. It was a shame not to get early breakthroughs.”
Karunaratne and Thirimanne’s stand equalled the record for the highest opening partnership in Tests between the two countries. In 1991, John Wright and Trevor Franklin had also put on 161 for the first wicket in Hamilton.
The opening stand was pivotal in Sri Lanka achieving the highest successful run chase in Galle, easily surpassing the previous best of 99. Resuming play on 133 for no loss, Sri Lanka required 135 from the remaining three sessions.
“Thirimanne did a very job for us. The key was rotating the strike. I told him that we needed a big partnership. They had two left-arm spinners and the two of us being left-handers, we had to handle them. That was what we were talking about,” Karunaratne said.
SCORES IN BRIEF
NEW ZEALAND: First innings 249 and second innings 285
SRI LANKA: First innings 267 and second innings 268 for 4 (Karunaratne 122, Thirimanne 64, Mathews 28 not out, Perera 23; Boult 1-34, Southee 1-33)
Result: Sri Lanka won by six wickets.
P-O-m: Dimuth Karunaratne.