BlackCaps skipper Kane Williamson rued the missed opportunity as none of the bowlers could crack the Mathew-Mendis partnership. @ AFP
BlackCaps skipper Kane Williamson rued the missed opportunity as none of the bowlers could crack the Mathew-Mendis partnership. @ AFP

Sri Lanka managed to salvage a famous draw in the first Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve on Wednesday, courtesy an epic partnership by Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis.

Mathew and Mendis were engaged in a mammoth 274-run partnership when stumps were drawn with only 13 overs on the final day due to unrelenting showers.

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New Zealand, who had a firm grip on the Test with 578 runs in the first innings anchored by Tom Latham’s unbeaten 264, tried everything to break the partnership after the pair carried the tourists, reeling at 13/3, in their second dig, in a fine reargued action.

BlackCaps skipper Kane Williamson rued the missed opportunity as none of the bowlers could crack the partnership.

“Maybe everything,” Williamson said when asked if he’d have done anything differently with the benefit of hindsight.

“We sat down and had a number of conversations with other senior players and at breaks and said, ‘what’s something else we can try?’ and we tried pretty much all of it,” he added.

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New Zealand tried everything – from placing a number of slip fielders to bowler short deliveries and even giving Ajaz Patel the ball for an entire session. However, Mathews and Mendis batted through the 108.4 deliveries facing a barrage of bouncers.

It was the only time in New Zealand that a full day’s play has been completed without a Test wicket falling, and the first time anywhere since South Africa achieved the feat against Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2008.

“There were a couple of wide balls that lobbed maybe 10m toward point but only 5m in distance. I think that was the best we got,” Williamson said.

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“Without the bounce and defensive strokes nothing was carrying through to the keeper. We tried a number of short deliveries which might have brought about something foreign in terms of strokeplay but it was very difficult. We shouldn’t ignore the fact that the two Sri Lankan batters played beautifully. I don’t think I’ve been part of a game where two guys have batted a whole day together and not given an opportunity.”

Williamson pointed out that the hosts, who were undone by a typical Basin Reserve pitch that had no assistance for the bowlers, had to make a quick turnaround after their historic 2-0 series sweep in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan.

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“The first two days were brilliant and put us in a really strong position. Tom Latham bats beautifully with jet lag, so we’ll get him on a world trip in a couple of days,” Williamson quipped.

“It’s one of those things, you feel a bit like it’s a five-match series with three in the UAE and then a quick turnaround from when we arrived home. It was really nice to get into the routine of playing and after a day it kind of kicks the jet lag out pretty quickly.”