By BV Swagath
New Zealand finally achieved a rare Test win on Sri Lankan soil, something that has eluded them since 1998. The Kiwis had to work hard for more than two sessions to take the remaining six wickets of the Lankans for a 167-run victory which forced the 2-match Test Series end in a 1-1 draw. All-rounder Angelo Mathews with his knock of 84 defied the Kiwis for nearly five hours to make it difficult for the Kiwis to take wickets once the ball became softer and older.
The morning session saw the overnight pair of Thilan Samaraweera and Angelo Mathews hardly gave any chance in the first half hour atleast. However, Samaraweera got himself run out to give the Kiwis the much needed opening on Day 5. By Lunch, the hosts got through a solid stand between Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardene.
New Zealand once again sprung back to life when debutant leggie Todd Astle got one to turn away with bounce to have Prasanna Jayawardene (29 from 108 balls) nicking him behind to end a stand of 35.3 overs to take a maiden Test wicket. The next wicket fell for SL went down quickly with Suraj Randiv edging Trent Boult into the slips as the hosts slipped to 122 for 7. The Kiwis could settle with just the two wickets in the post lunch session.
After Tea, with the second new ball, the Kiwis polished the Lankan innings with Boult having Kulasekara caught in the slips, Eranga getting caught brilliantly caught at gully by Williamson off Southee. The last man to fall was the fighting Angelo Mathews (84 from 228 balls with 11 fours and a six) getting caught off a leading edge in Boult’s bowling. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 195 with Southee, Boult taking three wickets each and Bracewell taking two wickets.
The Man of the Match award went to Skipper Ross Taylor for his two fabulous knocks while left-arm spinner Rangana Herath got the Player of the Series award.