CHRISTCHURCH - The Sri Lanka bowlers had no answers as New Zealand’s batsmen cashed in on a flattened-out day three surface at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

The first two days of the Boxing Day Test in Christchurch saw 22 wickets fall, but things were vastly different on Friday, 28 December, the third day. Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls made centuries before a rapid half-century from Colin de Grandhomme set up a New Zealand declaration on 585/4, setting Sri Lanka a target of 660. The visitors then lost both openers, going to stumps at 24/2.

The day began somewhat promisingly for the visitors with Lahiru Kumara trapping Ross Taylor in front for 40 – an addition of 15 to his overnight score. But there on, the New Zealand batsmen assumed complete control.

Latham, resuming on 74, survived an lbw shout on umpire’s call when he left one from Suranga Lakmal that came back in to hit him high on the pads, Sri Lanka’s review revealing that the ball would have clipped the off stump. Latham battled hard in the first hour and contained himself, and it was hard work getting to his century. He brought up the mark with an authoritative cut past backward point, and from then he was in full flow, by which point Nicholls too had started looking fluent.

Sri Lanka’s bowlers seemed to lose their areas after the lunch break, and the batsmen cashed in. Nicholls was the more willing of the two to take risks initially and it paid off. Not wanting to be left behind, Latham too joined in, and even stepped down the track to Dilruwan Perera to launch him over long-on.

Nicholls continued to put bad balls away, and soon brought up his century with a nice little tuck to fine leg off Danushka Gunathilaka. Latham looked to be cruising towards the rare feat of two double centuries in two games, but that march was cut short at 176 when he feathered a nick down leg off Dushmantha Chameera at the stroke of tea.

But instead of capping the flow of runs, that wicket only made matters worse for Sri Lanka with de Grandhomme exploiting his license to thrill on a good batting wicket against tiring bowlers.

Colin de Grandhomme has brought up his fifty off just 28 balls! It’s the fastest Test fifty by a New Zealand batsman, one ball quicker than Tim Southee’s effort. #NZvSL LIVE ?? http://bit.ly/NZvsSL2

His first boundary was a textbook cover drive off Kumara and he followed that with a powerful pull shot to the deep mid-wicket fence off the very next ball. He then clubbed a full Chameera ball into the stands over deep mid-wicket. Boundaries continued to flow for him, and he got to his fifty of just 28 balls – surpassing Tim Southee’s record for the fastest fifty by a New Zealander by one delivery.

Nicholls too got into the act with some aggressive hits and got past his 150. The onslaught put New Zealand in complete control, and Kane Williamson was to soon declare with de Grandhomme unbeaten on 71 off just 45 balls and Nicholls not out on 162.

New Zealand’s swing bowling duo of Trent Boult – who took six wickets in the space of 15 balls on Thursday – and Tim Southee then struck with a wicket each.

Dimuth Karunaratne got a faint feather down leg in the very first over of the innings off Boult. In the next over, Gunathilaka played an expansive heave only to get a faint nick to the wicket-keeper with Southee getting the ball to move away.

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis then played out the remaining few overs despite having a few tentative moments. The batsmen have a long task ahead of them with two whole days of play left.

Scorecard

NEW ZEALAND 1ST INNINGS: 178

SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS: 104

NEW ZEALAND 2ND INNINGS:

(OVERNIGHT: 231-2):

J Raval c Mendis b Perera..................................... 74

T Latham c Dickwella b Chameera.................. 176

K Williamson c Mendis b Kumara........................ 48

R Taylor lbw b Kumara........................................... 40

H Nicholls not out................................................... 162

C de Grandhomme not out.................................... 71

EXTRAS: (b5, lb3, nb3, w3)................................... 14

TOTAL: (4 wkts; 153 overs)....................... 585 decl

FOW: 1-121, 2-189, 3-247, 4-461

BOWLING:  Lakmal 30-6-96-0, Kumara 32-6-134-2-, Chameera 30-5-147-1, Perera 41-3-149-1, Gunathilaka 16-2-45-0-, Karunaratne 4-2-6-0-

M Gunathilaka c Watling b Southee..................... 4

D Karunaratne c Watling b Boult............................ 0

D Chandimal not out................................................ 14

K Mendis not out......................................................... 6

EXTRAS:......................................................................... 0

TOTAL: (2 wkts;14 overs)...................................... 24

FOW: 1-1, 2-9

BOWLING: T Boult 7-3-11-1, T Southee 7-5-13-1

TOSS: Sri Lanka

UMPIRES: Richard Illingworth (ENG), Michael Gough (ENG)

TV UMPIRE: Rod Tucker (AUS)

MATCH REFEREE: Richie Richardson (WIS)