Jatin โˆ™ Mar 12 2023, 6:15 AM

Mathews Brings in Gritty Century as Sri Lanka believe in WTC Final Dream

image-lf4zet4eAngelo Mathew led the way for Sri Lanka with a classy ton (Twitter)

In what can be deemed as a red-letter day for Sri Lanka, their stellar bowling display in the final passage of play on Day 4 would have undoubtedly bolstered their morale. After setting a daunting target of 285 for the hosts, Sri Lanka will be the happier side coming into Day 5, as New Zealand ended the penultimate day at 28/1, needing a mammoth 257 runs to clinch victory, amidst the challenging seamer-friendly conditions on the final day.

How the battle panned out on Day 4?

Resuming play at 83/3 on Day 4, Sri Lanka adopted a cautious approach in the initial hour. Prabath Jayasuriya, the nightwatchman, failed to make any significant contributions and was dismissed early by Blair Tickner, who clinched a remarkable four-wicket haul. Dinesh Chandimal joined forces with Angelo Mathews at the crease, and the experienced pair was tasked with resurrecting the Lankan innings.

The seasoned duo, through their unwavering determination, managed to fulfill their responsibility, with Sri Lanka amassing a lead of 138 runs by lunchtime on Day 4, with Jayasuriya being the only wicket to fall. Although Neil Wagner was ruled out of the game due to injury, and Matt Henry wasn't fully fit, New Zealand's attack continued to persist on a pitch that still held something for the bowlers.

Post-lunch, the hosts employed the short ball tactic, and stuck to a leg-side line, complemented with a dense leg-side field. Nevertheless, Mathews and Chandimal, with their resolute and composed demeanor, managed to work their way around the Kiwi bowling attack, successfully wearing them down.

However, just as the duo was edging away with the game, Tim Southee struck as he cleaned up Chandimal for 42 off 107 balls. Mathews, however, persevered and brought up his 14th Test century, filled with determination and a touch of class. Despite being shaky initially, Dhananjaya de Silva provided the much-needed support, as the Lankan lead inched towards the 250 mark by the time tea was called on Day 4.

The final session, unfortunately, witnessed Sri Lanka losing their last five wickets for 42 runs, as they were bowled out for 302. Mathews led the way with a magnificent 115 off 235 balls, whereas Dhananjaya remained unbeaten on 47 off 73 deliveries. Henry and Tickner were the pick of the bowlers for the hosts, claiming three and four wickets apiece.

NZ hit with Conway's loss

In response, Sri Lankan pacers were at their best during the brief period of play, with Kasun Rajitha claiming the only wicket to fall, that of Devon Conway for a paltry 5. Tom Latham and Kane Williamson, amidst some top-quality seam and swing bowling, displayed their tenacity and resilience and managed to hang in there, as the Kiwis went into Stumps on Day 4 at 28/1, still requiring another 257 runs to secure victory.

Whilst Sri Lanka is in pole position at the moment, the Kiwis are known for their fighting spirit, and with the match poised the way it is, an enthralling and captivating final day is undoubtedly on the horizon.

Brief scores

Sri Lanka (2nd innings): 302-10 (105.3)
Angelo Matthews 115 (235), Dhananjaya de Silva 47 (73)
Blair Tickner 4-100, Matt Henry 3-71

New Zealand (2nd innings): 28/1 (17)
Tom Latham 11* (48), Kane Williamson 7 (39)
Kasun Rajitha 1-5, Lahiru Kumara 0-0

New Zealand need 257 runs