(Reuters) – New Zealand went to bed yesterday confident the balance of the second test against Sri Lanka was still in their favour, according to pace bowler Neil Wagner.
The hosts were 142 for five at the close of play on the third day at Seddon Park in Hamilton, needing another 47 runs to sweep the two match series.
Kane Williamson, who was 78 not out at the close, looms as the key to a result either way today, while wicketkeeper BJ Watling was on nought, having only been at the crease for two deliveries.
“Everybody is still pretty confident in the team,” Wagner told Radio Sport. “We will go to bed and know there is still a lot of hard work ahead.
“There is 47 runs still needed to get but I think the boys are confident we can do it.”
Williamson had looked the most in control of all batsmen on the wicket on a surreal day, in which New Zealand bowled themselves back into the game when they took all 10 Sri Lankan wickets either side of lunch for 62 runs.
“I think it was pretty awesome test cricket to be honest,” Wagner said about the topsy-turvy day’s play. “It was an interesting day but that’s what makes it exciting.”
The 25-year-old Williamson, however, was limping noticeably during his innings and was seen to have heavy strapping around his right knee, though Wagner was sure the right-hander’s mental attitude would see his side through to victory.
“He’s a world class performer,” Wagner said. “The way he goes about his business with a calm head.
“All the success he has had lately shows just how good he is and he showed it today in a pressure situation.”
However, the Sri Lankan attack, led by Dushmantha Chameera, will no doubt continue with their short-pitched bowling tactics to get rid of the last recognised batting pair.
Chameera took career-best figures of 5-47 in the first innings and had taken four in the second with a short-pitched bowling plan, which Wagner said both sides had needed to implement because of the wicket.
“There hasn’t been a lot of swing or sideways movement off the wicket so when you pitched it up it sometimes held up and it gets easier to bat and score on,” the left-armer said.
“It’s pretty tough when the ball is going at your body and you’re trying to both defend it and to score so it’s more just when the ball is not swinging and it has gone soft you have to create other ways of getting wickets.”