The talk before play started today was about when the match would finish today, and what do you do with a day off in Wellington if it’s wet.
After all, Sri Lanka had looked rattled the previous evening, they were already 3 wickets down and the natural progression of the test match looked set to continue
But never take a test cricket match for granted. It is days like this that make the sport so great.
What was overlooked in the morning planning was that the pitch at the Basin famously does not deteriorate, and it is not unusual for the best batting to come on days 4 and 5 of a test match.
What was also overlooked is that Mathews is a classy and experienced batsman, and Mendis once scored 176 against Australia in a test where no other batsman reached 50.
What they put together was like some kind of payback for the Crowe / Jones partnership of 1991 or Williamson / Watling from 2015.
Kusal Mendis is a quality player who in Sri Lanka is seen as a possible successor to Sangakkara and Jayawardene. He is prone to the odd rush of blood to the head, as shown on Saturday, but when he’s in the zone he can be true class.
Today he produced all the shots which backed up his promise but he still showed a lot of discipline and concentration.
Angelo Mathews was a lot more circumspect early on, but he did show a real love for Wagner’s short stuff. At least 50% of his runs seemed to come that way, and a lot of those were forward of square.
The 10 press-ups on reaching three figures, apparently some dig at someone in team management, was pretty cool too.
Wagner’s impotency was a big factor in how the day unfolded. On flat patches there has always been the tactic of tossing the ball to Wagner, putting players on the leg side and waiting for the wickets to fall. Instead his figures looked like he was having a really bad ODI today.
That plan did not come off today, and he has never been dominated by a single batsman the way he was dominated by Mathews today.
The pitch had got slower as the game has progressed but he didn’t seem to have quite the zip or accuracy compared to what we’ve become used to.
The others bowled well but Southee and Boult failed to get the swing they’d have wanted, even with the new ball, and it was just that Mendis and Mathews were simply too good.
There was not a single genuine appeal, there were no dropped catches, and even when there was running confusion no run out was ever likely.
#Statchat This is only the 22nd full day of test cricket when a wicket hasn’t fallen.
The last occasion was in 2008.
And it’s the first time it has ever occurred in New Zealand.