Latham double ton puts Sri Lanka on the rack
Latham double ton puts Sri Lanka on the rack

  Wellington: New Zealand opener Tom Latham hit his maiden double century Monday, putting Sri Lanka to the sword on a flat track in the first Test at Wellington's Basin Reserve.

Latham brought up his milestone mid-way through day three as New Zealand reached tea at 509 for six, a first-innings lead of 227 over the tourists.

The 26-year-old was 215 not out at the break, surpassing his previous Test high score of 177 against Bangladesh at the same ground last year.

Latham, who has seven Test centuries in 39 matches and averages 36, becomes the 15th New Zealander to score a Test double century.

Sri Lanka's bowlers, who have toiled for little reward, snared four valuable wickets in the first two sessions of the day, but New Zealand remain firmly in control. Ross Taylor was dismissed for 50 in the first over of the day after failing to add to his overnight score.

Lahiru Kumara made the breakthrough for the tourists thanks to a sharp catch from Dimuth Karunaratne.

The ball was forcefully struck and initially bounced off Karunaratne's hand at silly mid-off before he recovered to grab it as he tumbled to the ground.

Henry Nicholls also went to 50 after lunch trying to take on spinner Dilruwan Perera.

BJ Watling followed without scoring when he tucked his bat awkwardly under his arm as he ducked a Kumara bouncer and the ball clipped it on the way through.

Colin de Grandhomme scored three sixes during an aggressive innings but fell on 49 attempting to bludgeon a fourth.

Sri Lanka, ranked sixth in the world, have lost their last five Tests against New Zealand and suffered a 3-0 home Test series whitewash against England last month.

They have faced upheaval in their coaching and selection ranks in recent weeks and arrived in New Zealand low on confidence.

In contrast, the fourth-ranked Black Caps entered the two-match contest buoyed by their first away Test series win over Pakistan in 49 years.

The New Zealanders are looking for a fourth straight Test series win after also defeating England and the West Indies in the past 12 months.

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