Off the penultimate ball of the first Test, Kane Williamson scored a magnificent unbeaten century to lead New Zealand to an exciting two-wicket victory against Sri Lanka.
On a fifth day in Christchurch that was cut short by rain, the Black Caps chased down 285 thanks to Williamson’s 121 remaining.
In order to secure a thrilling victory, the hosts required eight runs off the penultimate over and scrambled a bye from the final ball.
Sri Lanka’s dreams of making it to the World Test Championship final in June were dashed by defeat.
India will now take on Australia in the championship game at The Oval since Sri Lanka needed to sweep New Zealand 2-0 in this series to qualify.
India won the series 2-1 when the fourth and final Test between the two teams at Ahmedabad ended in a tie.
New Zealand vs. Sri Lanka 2023: Schedule & Results
On the last day, the Black Caps were 28-1 and needed 257 more runs to win.
The umpires decided there would be a maximum of 52 overs bowled in an extended final session after the previous two sessions were called off due to rain, which required New Zealand to score at over five runs per over.
Before Williamson and Daryl Mitchell put on a 142-run partnership off 157 balls, they had slid to 90-3, and Sri Lanka was left to regret that wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella had dropped Williamson at 33.
After Mitchell was dismissed for 81 runs by Asitha Fernando, who also got rid of Tom Blundell and Michael Bracewell, New Zealand started to falter. With 16 balls left, the hosts needed 19 more runs to reach their goal of 266-6.
Williamson was able to carry the game into the last over despite the loss of captain Tim Southee.
Injured Neil Wagner was brought to the crease after Matt Henry was run out while attempting a second run off the third ball. The fast bowler has been ruled out of the second Test due to a bulging disc in his back and a strained right hamstring.
Williamson scored four runs off the following delivery, leveling the score, before Fernando produced a bouncer that nearly qualified as wide due to height but was declared a dot ball.
Williamson’s botched pull shot gave New Zealand a bye through to the keeper with one needed off the final ball, and he narrowly avoided being hit directly at the non-end striker’s by getting his bat down in time.
It is New Zealand’s second suspenseful Test victory in a succession after their incredible one-run triumph against England earlier this month.
Southee remarked, “Seeing how calm Kane is out in the center makes us calm as well.
He is a world-class athlete, and athletes of that caliber may excel under a variety of circumstances.
The boys had a lot of faith in what he would do, and for the majority of the day, he worked well with Daryl to put us in a strong position.
On Friday, the second Test begins at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.