A disciplined half-century from Daniel Flynn hauled New Zealand towards a total of 400 after some middle order jitters on day two of the second test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Having arrived at the end of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson’s epic 262-run stand for the third wicket, Flynn staved off a potential collapse with a fighting 50 not out off 129 balls.
It helped New Zealand reach 396-8 at tea as they continued to favour crease occupation over fast scoring. Having faced 149 overs, it represented a run rate of 2.66 but the triumph was actually taking the innings this far after their recent batting woes. Jeetan Patel was unbeaten on 13.
While it could have been so much better from a dominant 276-2, the total was New Zealand’s best first innings in nine tests since they scored 495-7 declared against Zimbabwe in Napier in January.
New Zealand suffered a mini-collapse of 4-24 either side of lunch, after a total of 450-plus looked elementary.
Taylor (142) and Williamson (135) were both dismissed by Rangana Herath within five overs of each other.
Resuming on 223-2, Williamson survived some jitters against the second new ball to add the five runs he needed to post his third test century, off 253 balls.
Taylor was first to depart, at the end of the 100th over of the innings as left-arm spinner Herath finally struck in his 26th over.
Taylor attempted a sweep and was given out lbw, ending a 306-ball knock, his eighth test century.
Williamson didn’t learn from Taylor’s error and departed to the same stroke after Herath changed ends. He faced one fewer delivery than his skipper, and hit 12 fours to Taylor’s 11.
Kruger Van Wyk, promoted up the order after James Franklin’s omission, looked surprised when he was bowled third ball, prodding forward to part-time spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Debutant Todd Astle got off the mark with his first delivery but only scored three before he didn’t offer a shot to Herath and was also lbw.
Flynn defended stoutly and added 46 with Doug Bracewell and 28 with Tim Southee before both departed to big shots.
With Southee’s dismissal, Herath brought up 50 test wickets this year, just the second bowler to achieve it after England’s Graeme Swann. The man of the match from the first test had figures of 4-100 off 47 overs.
Sri Lanka: Tharanga Paranavitana, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (c), Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Suraj Randiv, Shaminda Eranga.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor (c), Daniel Flynn, Todd Astle, Kruger van Wyk, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Jeetan Patel, Trent Boult.
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