Kane Williamson yesterday joined the elite 1,000-runs-a-year club as New Zealand built a commanding 308-run lead over Sri Lanka with two days remaining in the first Test in Dunedin.
Only the threat of rain and a flattening pitch loomed as possible barricades for New Zealand, who closed day three on 171-1 with nine wickets in hand.
Tom Latham was on 72 with master batsman Williamson on 48.
Although Sri Lanka have their backs to the wall, forecast rain and an easy wicket meant it was crucial for New Zealand to get the timing of their declaration right, according to bowling spearhead Tim Southee.
“With the new ball, it’s important for us to try and make early inroads,” he said.
“It’s not going to come easy. If batsmen get in on this wicket, there’s not too many demons in it, so we’re going to have to work extremely hard to take 10 wickets,” he added.
Williamson, who started his innings with 992 runs for the year, reached 1,000 driving Rangana Herath elegantly over mid-off to the boundary.
He joins England’s Alastair Cook and Joe Root and Australians David Warner and Steve Smith as the only players to achieve the milestone this year, but his batting average of 94.54 is considerably superior.
Brendon McCullum, with 1,164 runs last year, is the only other New Zealander to score 1,000 runs in a calendar year.
Williamson’s class shone as New Zealand ramped up their dominance over Sri Lanka, removing their last six wickets to have the tourists all out for 294, 137 runs in arrears.
Guptill and Latham set about building on New Zealand’s advantage, moving swiftly to 79 before Guptill’s luck ran out when he was bowled by a shooter from Herath for 46.
The first-innings century-maker had earlier survived caught-and-bowled chances to Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal and being dropped on 19 by Kusal Mendis at cover.
Latham, who posted his seventh Test 50 with a single off Milinda Siriwardana, has been content to build partnerships — first with Guptill, then an unbroken 92-run stand with Williamson.
Sri Lanka suffered a setback at the start of the day when they resumed their first innings at 197-4 and lost batting general Dinesh Chandimal with the first ball he faced.
Sri Lanka had expected Chandimal to lead them within close range of New Zealand’s 431, instead he was unable to add to his overnight 83 as he fell to Southee.
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