A determined innings from Angelo Mathews wasn’t quite enough to help Sri Lanka escape with the draw on the final day against New Zealand. He perished for 84 well into the evening session to end what has been an absorbing Test match.
Once Thilan Samaraweera had been run out early on, much depended on Mathews and he didn’t disappoint, taking 178 balls over his fifty and finding support from Prasanna Jayawardene (29 off 108 balls) and Nuwan Kulasekara (18 off 40).
The day had begun with Samaraweera and Mathews facing four consecutive maidens before the former charged down the pitch after hitting a ball to short cover only to be sent back by Mathews and failing to make his ground.
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That was a huge blow for the hosts, but if New Zealand thought things were going to be relatively straightforward thereafter then they were mistaken. Jayawardene and Mathews combined to take Sri Lanka to lunch and beyond. They made the most of some loose deliveries from leg-spinner Todd Astle, who nevertheless eventually got his revenge.
He bowled a beauty of a leg break to Jayawardene which pitched on off-stump, turned and bounced to take the shoulder of the bat and carry through to Kruger van Wyk. That made it 119 for six and three runs later Suraj Randiv was sent packing by Trent Boult for a duck as he edged to Martin Guptill in the slips.
However, New Zealand still couldn’t hurry to victory as Nuwan Kulasekara stayed with Mathews until tea. He clubbed another couple of loose deliveries from Astle over mid-wicket for six, while Mathews added his own over long-on.
Unfortunately, Kulasekara’s resistance was ended early in the evening session by Boult and the final two wickets fell relatively quickly. Kane Williamson clung onto Kulasekara in the gully and then took a good low catch to remove the promoted Shaminda Eranga in the next over for a duck. Mathews enjoyed himself for a while, hitting four boundaries off what would turn out to be Tim Southee’s final over, before Boult had him caught, again by Guptill at second slip, to bring too an end an entertaining Test match.
New Zealand will be pleased to have come away from the short Test leg of their tour of Sri Lanka with a win and have brought to an end their losing run at five matches, while Sri Lanka have been served with a timely reminder of what lies in store for them when their ageing big three of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene finally retire.
© Cricket World 2012
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