NZ vs SL | Twitter lauds Williamson's titanic effort in instant classic to send India to WTC Final

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With a World Test Championship Final spot at stake, Sri Lanka gave their everything in a match for the history books but came up short in an instant classic. The Kiwis required 257 runs on a rain-interrupted Day 5 and were nearly kept to a tie but Kane Williamson's efforts ensured them the win.

New Zealand and Sri Lanka produced one of the most thrilling Test matches in the sport's rich history with the result being decided in the hosts' favour on the last delivery of Day 5 at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Monday. Set a target of 285, the Kiwis faced severe hurdles en route to history but a positive intent and a magnificent Kane Williamson innings ensured the team ended up completing their third-highest run chase ever.  

Being sent in to bat first, Sri Lanka tallied a score of 355 in their first innings courtesy of valuable contributions throughout the batting order. Kusal Mendis led the charge with an attacking 87 off just 83 balls and was well aided by Dimuth Karunaratne's half-century. The pace duo of Tim Southee and Matt Henry inflicted the majority of the damage for the visitors, returning excellent figures of 5/64 and 4/80 respectively.

In response, the Black Caps outscored their rivals by 18 runs, largely thanks to lone-warrior century from Daryl Mitchell amidst a sudden collapse. Later, a Matt Henry slogging masterclass worth 72 runs off just 74 balls, including a record 24-run over, took the side to 373 despite Asitha Fernando's 4/85.

Blair Tickner roared to life in the second innings, sending the entire back four back to the pavilion but an Angelo Matthews century took the Lions past 300 against the odds, thus setting a target of 285 for the Kiwis. Entering the last day, their score read 28/1, setting up an enticing three sessions with all to play for. However, rain intervened to wash out an entire session and in doing so, set up a thriller for the ages.

New Zealand could have settled for a quiet draw as Sri Lanka hunted for a result, given anything less than a win meant an end to their World Test Championship hopes, but the hosts did not hold back. Even after the side succumbed to 90/3, Daryl Mitchell made the team's intentions known with a maximum off his first delivery en route to a quick 81 off just 86 deliveries. With him and former skipper Kane at the crease, the result looked a foregone conclusion. However, the former's furniture was disturbed in the 62nd over while Tom Blundell was dismissed 10 balls later, leaving the Kiwis requiring 47 runs off the last 39 deliveries with just the tail and Williamson to go.

A huge scrap of minds, the willow, and the red cherry thereby produced perhaps the most entertaining hour of cricket in the two teams' shared history as the sides went blow for blow. Eventually, the Lions had all their men stationed at the boundary when Kane was on strike, trying to stop the boundaries and avoid a loss. Ultimately, eight runs were required off the last over with just three wickets in hand and a boundary on the fourth ball brought the equation down to 1 off 2.

However, a dot ball made proceedings tense and a play-and-miss by Williamson on the final delivery had the game destined for a rare tie. Nevertheless, the batter ran for his life hoping to steal a bye and a direct hit by the bowler on the non-striker's end meant the world sat with bated breath to look at the replays. The big screen showed Williamson had made it past the crease by a whisker, bringing a huge smile of relief to the kneeled batter's face while Neil Wagner engulfed him a huge embrace. The result also meant India were through to the WTC Final against Australia at The Oval beginning June 7 with Sri Lanka eliminated from the running,  

Kane Williamson wins it!

Pure class

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