New Zealand 178 & 327 for 3 (Latham 118*, Nicholls 35*) lead Sri Lanka 104 (Mathews 33, Boult 6-30, Southee 3-33) by 401 runs
Tom Latham completed his eighth Test hundred, taking his series tally to 392, while the team racked up a lead of 401 as a whole, in a morning session in which Sri Lanka could claim only one wicket. The visitors had the benefit of taking the second new ball one over into the day, but under sunnier skies, and with the pitch now having dried out slightly, could not create more than a handful of wicket opportunities.
Like his 264 not out in Wellington last week, this Latham innings has also been a grind. The first 30 balls he faced on day three yielded no more than eight runs, and though his scoring rate increased after that initial period, thanks in part to four freebie overthrow runs, only two fours came off his bat before lunch – the first of those boundaries, past point, propelling him into triple figures.
Through the course of his 118 not out, Latham has been involved in half-century stands with each of his batting partners. The fourth-wicket association with Henry Nicholls, who was also somewhat circumspect this morning, despite New Zealand’s supremely comfortable match position, stood at 80 by lunch, with Nicholls contributing 35 off 76.
Sri Lanka bowled more attacking lines with the second new ball than they had with the first, but none of their quicks could find the kind of movement in the air that Trent Boult had ruined them with on the second morning. Suranga Lakmal’s first spell on day three was accurate enough, prompting several plays-and-misses, but was otherwise unremarkable. His occasionally sharp seam movement into the left-handers generally took an inside edge on to the pads, denying him the chance of creating lbw and bowled chances. The one strong shout he raised – Latham playing no shot to a delivery that darted in – could have been given out, but the ball was hitting too little of the top of middle and off for the on-field umpire’s not-out decision to be overturned.
Lahiru Kumara had more success at the other end, angling one into Ross Taylor that hit the batsman in front of middle and leg. That sent Taylor packing for 40 off 44 balls in the fifth over of the day, but Sri Lanka could not muster any clear-cut chances after that. On the occasions they did rap batsmen on the pad, they generally hit them too high for umpires to be tempted to raise the finger.
It was also another disappointing session for Dushmantha Chameera, who has had success in New Zealand before, but is wicketless in this match so far. He has bowled 28 overs in the game, and has 0 for 117 across the two innings.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.