2nd Test: Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls hit hundreds as New Zealand’s lead hits 535
Henry Nicholls followed Tom Latham to his own hundred. ©AFP

Centuries by Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls gave New Zealand a colossal 535-run second innings lead over Sri Lanka at tea on day three of the second Test in Christchurch on Friday.

New Zealand were 461/4 with Latham out on the last ball before the adjournment for 176 leaving Nicholls unbeaten on 110. No team has ever scored more than 418 in a successful fourth-innings run chase.

New Zealand, holding a 74-run lead on the first innings, resumed day three at 231/2. They added 96 on the third morning and a further 134 in the middle session. (ALSO READ: With eighth Test hundred, Tom Latham becomes second most successful New Zealand opener)

Left-hander Latham, whose unbeaten 264 in the drawn first Test is the top score in Test cricket this year, continued his purple patch as he persevered with grim determination through 370 deliveries. For the most part, it was a near faultless innings, although he was dropped by Dushmantha Chameera on 32 and survived an lbw review on 75 after Sri Lanka took the new ball in the second over of the day.

Tom Latham's patient century came off 267 deliveries and included 10 fours
Tom Latham’s patient century came off 267 deliveries and included 10 fours. ©AFP

Then, on the stroke of tea, Chameera made the breakthrough when he had Latham caught behind off a faint legside edge.

The only reward with the new ball in the morning session came when Lahiru Kumara trapped Ross Taylor in front to claim the senior batsman’s wicket for 40. But, overall the Sri Lankan bowlers were unable to engineer the same movement that saw Trent Boult decimate their innings 24 hours earlier.

Latham moved into the nineties with a fortuitous five off Chameera when a single to fine leg was followed by four overthrows and his century came from a boundary through backward point off Suranga Lakmal. Latham and Nicholls put 214 for the fourth wicket with Latham achieving his eighth century and Nicholls his fourth.

Only three times in cricket history has the winning side scored more than 400 in the fourth innings, with the current record held by the West Indies is 418 for seven against Australia 15 years ago in Antigua. But, with more than two days remaining, Sri Lanka have ample batting time and proved with Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis in the drawn first Test in Wellington that they are capable of playing for long periods.

And unlike Wellington, where rain washed out most of the final day, fine weather is forecast for the remainder of the Christchurch Test