Blackcaps v Sri Lanka: Rain delays New Zealand chase for test victory at Christchurch's Hagley Oval

New Zealand have pulled off another thrilling test victory, chasing down 285 runs on the final ball of the first test against Sri Lanka at Christchurch's Hagley Oval.

Batting superstar Kane Williamson, who finished unbeaten on 121, ran a bye and narrowly survived a runout review for the winning run, just two weeks after his team's one-run victory over England.

After reaching 28/1 at stumps the previous night, the Blackcaps' target became a little more difficult to achieve, when they lost the morning and most of the afternoon sessions to rain.

Needing 257 runs in 52 overs, Williamson and opener Tom Latham showed few immediate signs of aggression, and the NZ cause suffered setbacks with the losses of Latham (25) and out-of-form Henry Nicholls (20).

Kane Williamson celebrates his century against Sri Lanka
Kane Williamson celebrates his century against Sri Lanka. Photo credit: Photosport

Daryl Mitchell's arrival at the crease brought a more positive approach, as he and Williamson put on 142 runs off 157 balls for the fourth wicket. Fresh from his first-innings century, Mitchell reached 81 from 86 balls, including four sixes, before playing a wide yorker from Asitha Fernando onto his stumps.

Wicketkeeper Tom Blundell quickly fell to a straighter yorker in Fernando's next over.

At the other end, Williamson calmly inched towards his 27th test century and while he was there, New Zealand retained some hope of at least staving off defeat. He reached his ton off 177 balls, still needing 32 runs to win, with four overs remaining and shadows lengthening.

Williamson lost Michael Bracewell with 19 runs required, caught at midwicket off Fernando, bringing captain Tim Southee to the crease. The skipper has been in swashbuckling form with the bat, but his slog at the second ball faced saw him caught in the outfield.

Enter Matt Henry, who scored a career-high 72 runs in the first innings. Needing eight off the last over, Williamson slipped as he turned for a second run off the first ball, leaving Henry exposed. Next ball, the fast bowler was run out attempting a second run, leaving Williamson on strike.

Henry's demise brought injured fast bowler Neil Wagner running to the middle, a brave show of intent from the man who hobbled from the field two days earlier and has already been ruled out of the next test.

On his 37th birthday, Wagner - who took the winning wicket against the English - was not required to face a ball, but would still play another crucial part in this result.

Williamson stroked a four off the fourth ball of the over, leaving the scores tied, but Fernando bowled a bouncer that soared over the batter with the penultimate delivery. The umpires were not prepared to decide the test with a no ball.

Predictably, Fernando repeated the dose with the last ball, but even on one leg, Wagner was already charging down the wicket towards the danger end. Wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella tossed the ball to the non-striker's end, where Williamson was pumping his legs for all they were worth and sliding home.

Replays showed he beat the ball by less than a metre, as the Kiwis celebrated another heartstopping finale.

"With the weather around today, it was great to get a result," reflected Southee. "It's a great time for test cricket, which is as exciting as it has been for a long time.

"We know how quickly things can change in cricket and especially on day five, going late into a test match, funny things can happen, but as long as Kane was there... we saw the class again today of what he can do.

"Along with Daryl Mitchell, who's going from strength to strength, they looked reasonably comfortable, but we knew, as we saw when we were bowling, when you get an end open, things can happen in a hurry."

The result eliminates Sri Lanka from contention for the World Test Championship final, setting up an Australia v India showdown for the trophy currently held by New Zealand.

The two teams move on to Wellington for the second test, beginning Friday. 

Sri Lanka 355 & 302

NZ 373 & 285/8 (Williamson 121no, Mitchell 81, Latham 25; Fernando 3/63)

NZ win by two wickets