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Record 345-run stand puts New Zealand on top vs. Sri Lanka

January 6, 2015

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s Kane Williamson posted his first test double century and shared a world record 365-run sixth-wicket partnership with B. J. Watling on Tuesday to put the hosts in a strong position after day four of the second test against Sri Lanka.

Williamson was 242 and Watling 142 when New Zealand declared its second innings at 524-5 an hour before stumps, setting Sri Lanka a target of 390 for victory.

At the close Sri Lanka was 45-1, needing 345 more runs from an expected 106 overs on day five if it is to square the series.

New Zealand, which won the first test at Christchurch by eight wickets, had trailed by 135 runs on first innings but the eight-hour-long stand between Watling and Williamson turned the match and put the hosts in a position to start 2015 with a series victory.

“We’re extremely proud and it was good to do it with my good mate Kane,” Watling said. “It was pretty special and I enjoyed every moment of it.

“They came hard at us, they tried a few things and we managed to get through. We have a little total there now and we’ll back ourselves to try to win a test match.”

New Zealand was 159-5, leading by only 24 runs, when Williamson and Watling — provincial teammates and best mates off the field — came together just before tea on the third day with the apparent task being to save the match and hopefully set Sri Lanka a three-figure total to chase.

They did much more than that, sharing one of the great partnerships in New Zealand’s test history. The pair batted through the next 112 overs to turn the tables and give the Black Caps the upper hand.

Their partnership is the highest for the sixth wicket in test history, beating the previous mark of 351 which Watling set with Brendon McCullum against India on the same ground in February.

New Zealand was still in a perilous position when it resumed Tuesday at 253-5, leading Sri Lanka by only 118 runs. An early breakthrough by Sri Lanka would have exposed New Zealand’s lower order and tipped the match again in Sri Lanka’s favor.

But the pair batted doggedly through until lunch, by which time New Zealand’s lead was 190.

Milestones steadily tumbled throughout the day: first they surpassed the previous record sixth-wicket partnership for New Zealand against Sri Lanka: besting the mark of 246 set 30 years ago by Richard Hadlee and Jeff Crowe.

Watling reached his century — his third on the Basin Reserve — from 270 balls as New Zealand went to tea at 445-5, with a lead of 310 and the match in safe-keeping.

Williamson was 190 not out at the break and there were only the matters of his double century and the declaration remaining. He quickly scored the three runs he needed to surpass his previous highest test score of 192 — set against Pakistan only two months ago — then reached his 200 from 394 balls.

McCullum declared at 5:10pm, with 17 overs left in the day.

Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva put on 42 for Sri Lanka’s first wicket, batting in darkening conditions, before Karunaratne (17) scooped a catch to Hamish Rutherford from the bowling of Mark Craig.

To win, Sri Lanka would need to better the record successful run chase in the fourth innings at Basin Reserve, which is 277.

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