Sri Lanka vs New Zealand 2019: BJ Watling credits Black Caps success in subcontinent to self-belief
New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by an innings to level the series. © SLC

New Zealand‘s series-levelling innings-and-65-run win over Sri Lanka in the final Test at Colombo’s P Sara Oval is the result of hard work and a belief that victory could be achieved in the subcontinent, because of two wins over Pakistan in the UAE last year according to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

Seven years ago, New Zealand were beaten by 10 wickets in Galle and arrived at the P Sara Oval in similar scenes and then clinched a famous win. On this tour, Sri Lanka lead the two-match series 1-0 after a six-wicket win in Galle and this left Kane Williamson‘s team needing to win at the P Sara Oval once again.


Though Williamson endured another poor Test as a batsman, New Zealand found their batting heroes in Watling, who scored his seventh Test hundred, fellow centurion Tom Latham (who was Man of the Match for his 154) and the allrounder Colin de Grandhomme who hit a breezy 83 off 77 balls as the visitors stacked up 431/6 declared in their only innings.

This gave the Black Caps their first points of the new World Test Championship, and with 60 they are at second place on the overall table.

BJ Watling Player of the Series
New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling was voted Player of the Series. SLC

Asia has been a tough place for New Zealand cricket teams to succeed, but having beaten Pakistan 2-1 in the UAE in late 2018, Watling said the team knew what was required to win in Colombo.

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“It comes from past performances. We’ve managed to do it and that instils some belief in the guys knowing that in these conditions you can go bang bang and get yourself back in the game quickly,” said Watling, who was named Player of the Series by Sri Lanka.

“The heat definitely takes it out of you. It is pretty humid out there, there’s a lot of sweating going on and a lot of hard work. The dirties [non-players] are running around like madmen trying to get us gloves and water and Powerade just to keep us going. That’s always the challenge in these conditions but the boys are starting to learn to deal with it.”

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In humid conditions on day five at P Sara Oval, New Zealand reduced Sri Lanka to 32/5 before they were held up in their victory marsh by Niroshan Dickwella who scored 51 in 211 minutes of batting.

Trent Boult – who on day one had become the second-fastest New Zealand bowler to 250 Test wickets – eventually ended the match late on Monday.

“It is fantastic, especially after that little partnership they got going and the weather around, there were moments of anxiety,” said Watling, who during the match surpassed former skipper Brendon McCullum’s mark of 2803 runs and five hundreds as wicketkeeper.

“You’re always proud of achieving certain things. It’s something I certainly didn’t target. There’s been some fantastic keepers for New Zealand and I guess I’m lucky enough to play for this amount of time and managed to score a few runs along the way.”

New Zealand now play three T20Is with Sri Lanka.