Thisara Perera's incredible batting fireworks created some unwanted flashbacks for Black Caps captain Kane Williamson at Bay Oval on Saturday night.

Perera's absurd 140 off 74 balls saw Sri Lanka come charging back from the dead in their chase of 320 for victory in the second of three one-day internationals. At 128-7, Sri Lanka looked set for a heavy defeat but Perera unleashed hell on the Black Caps bowlers, bringing Sri Lanka within 21 runs of victory, with 22 balls remaining, before his eventual demise.

It was too close a call for Williamson, who drew comparisons to Marcus Stoinis' unbeaten 146 for Australia at Eden Park in 2017.

Chasing 287 for victory, Australia looked out of the contest at 67-6, but Stoinis unleashed nine fours and 11 sixes in a devastating 117-ball display, which got his side within six runs before No 11 Josh Hazlewood was run out.

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Perera produced the same destruction, but fortunately for the Black Caps, the same result, with the all-rounder mistiming a Matt Henry delivery and Trent Boult taking a smart diving catch to spare the Black Caps' blushes.

Williamson cut a relieved figure at the end of the game.

"For probably 85 per cent of that game, it was really clinical from our guys - I thought the first-innings total was a good one on a slightly worn wicket, and it proved to be the case for the most part of the Sri Lankan innings. Then Thisara came out and played absolutely out of his skin.

"It reminded me a bit of Stoinis at Eden Park, where all of a sudden you were so far ahead of the game, and then you feel under pressure and guys are under pressure to execute their skills.

"A few fumbles as well, and it was all sort of leaning in one direction for a little bit there."

Williamson was referring to dropped catches, with at least five catchable chances going to ground, including one from Williamson himself - a rare poor outing from a usually excellent fielding unit.

Kane Williamson was a worried man for a while. Photo / Photosport
Kane Williamson was a worried man for a while. Photo / Photosport

"We all had a go [at dropping catches]. It was frustrating. If we did hold our catches, we would have walked off and addressed the whole fielding and bowling effort a lot differently.

"It wasn't to be, and off the back of that, Thisara played absolutely outstandingly well and kept putting us under pressure.

"We do pride ourselves on our fielding and it's something we need to move on quickly from here, go to Nelson and just keep that intensity we had in the field for the first 20 overs or so."

There were few issues with the batting effort, led by Colin Munro (87 from 77 balls), Ross Taylor (90 from 105) and Jimmy Neesham (64 from 37). The contributions had the hosts set for a crushing victory, until Perera exposed some issues for them to improve in tomorrow's third ODI in Nelson.

"The beauty of [Saturday] versus the last match is we did adjust fairly well with the bat and realise it was gripping perhaps a little bit, which meant it probably wasn't that 350-370 wicket, but to get to 320 we knew was a very competitive total.

"There were some good signs but I suppose when you see momentum shifts, there are plenty to things to work on.

"But it was nice that guys could hold their nerve and come away with the win."