Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews defy New Zealand with epic stand to give Sri Lanka hope

Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews celebrated with push-ups on the pitch after joining Kusal Mendis in passing 100 Tuesday as the pair batted the whole day without losing a wicket to offer the tourists hope of an unlikely first Test draw in Wellington.
Mendis was 116 not out at stumps on day four and Mathews 117, with their record-breaking unbroken 246-run partnership setting a Sri Lankan record against New Zealand.
It was also the first 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.
The pair’s epic vigil meant the tourists ended the day at 259 for three after starting in a seemingly hopeless position with three wickets down for just 20 in their second innings after conceding a first innings deficit of 296 to New Zealand.
Sri Lanka still need a further 37 to avoid an innings defeat but with a flat pitch offering nothing to New Zealand’s seam attack and rain threatening on the final day, a draw is now a real prospect.
New Zealand had hoped to wrap up the match early on the fourth day after posting an imposing 578 in the first innings, anchored by Tom Latham’s unbeaten 264 — which eclipsed England captain Alastair Cook’s record 244, set just under a year ago in Melbourne, to become the highest score by an opener carrying their bat in Test history.But the home bowlers grew increasingly frustrated by the stubborn rearguard action, resorting to a barrage of bouncers that failed to rattle the batsmen.