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August 29, 2009
New Zealand 234 and 182 for 6 (Flynn 50, Herath 4-73) need another 312 runs to beat Sri Lanka 416 and 311 for 5 decl (Sangakkara 109, Jayawardene 96)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
New Zealand began their last innings of this series needing 494 to win or, more realistically, over four-and-a-half sessions to bat out a draw. They were again three down for less than 100, on a track whose bounce and spin suited Sri Lanka's spinners, and failed to forge partnerships. Sri Lanka remained the superior team, batting and bowling with far more skill. If Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene frustrated New Zealand in the morning, then Rangana Herath's wiles left them haemorrhaging in the evening.
Thrown the new ball after one over of spin from Tharanga Paranavitana, Dammika Prasad's first six overs went for just 16 and he knocked back Tim McIntosh's off stump after a fatal decision to shoulder arms. Delayed until the 15th over, Herath came over the stumps and with his first delivery got Martin Guptill to edge. Ross Taylor counter-attacked briefly, sweeping and slogging, before Herath lured him into another nick with a classical left-armer's turn and bounce.
Daniel Flynn, who had struggled to buy a run so far on tour, handled the spinners well for a period and played with an ease the openers struggled for. He mixed caution with opportunism, not shying away from using his feet to drive and cut. Yet his too was an aborted innings. Having raised his first fifty of the series in 110 minutes, Flynn became Herath's third victim, playing back when he should have gone forward. Herath was outstanding today, outdoing Muttiah Muralitharan for accuracy and turn.
Brendon McCullum's temperament has been questionable all tour and he was very nearly out third ball, top-edging a slog to deep midwicket where Thilan Thushara, covering a lot of ground, dived bravely but in vain. It didn't hurt much, as McCullum swung at Murali and edged onto his stumps. Jesse Ryder, uncharacteristically dropped by Prasanna Jayawardene down the leg side on 7, batted with assured footwork. He seemed up to the task of batting for time, and sensibly too, for the most part, eschewing the showy strokes he is prone to indulge in. But he was out lbw to Herath for 38, attempting to sweep.
New Zealand's almost hopeless position owed significantly to another morning of remorseless accumulation, when Sangakkara and Jayawardene further deflated their spirits. Sangakkara put in his first century of the series, and sixth at the SSC, extending his stand for the third wicket with his good mate to 173. Sangakkara's lack of runs in Galle had hardly told on Sri Lanka so far, but rarely does a home series roll by when he doesn't score a century. Having done the hard work yesterday, he reached his goal today.
It was an innings that sported an array of strokes - a full-throttle swivel-pull off Daniel Vettori; three scorching drives off Ryder, completing his follow-through while on his knees; and a straight drive off Iain O'Brien. Typically, the drives off the front foot were methodical. In fact, that flowing bent-knee drive past cover has become as customary for Sangakkara as the nudge off the hips for one. Sangakkara was cheered though the nineties by local fans and when he forced Jeetan Patel off the back foot to deep cover, after roughly three-and-a-half hours at the crease, he punched the air as the crowd clapped in delight.
There was another large innings panning out at the other end as well. Jayawardene was again in his element on a pitch and against an attack which would have reminded him of his Indian Premier League days. He skipped down and lofted Patel for six on the third ball of the day and repeated the shot off Vettori for four, then settled as he eased past fifty. Though he hit a number of trademark drives off the seam bowlers, front foot right to the pitch and head low as he caressed the ball through the covers, Jayawardene was overall cautious.
Sangakkara advanced and edged Patel to slip for 109 - with Sri Lanka's lead on 444 - to bring Thilan Samaraweera to the middle. Sri Lanka had pushed back the declaration before lunch to allow Jayawardene reach his tenth Test ton at the SSC but it wasn't to be. After the break, O'Brien, for the second time in the match, dismissed Jayawardene in the nineties. The new ball was taken shortly after lunch and Vettori swiftly dismissed Samaraweera lbw for 25, then looked on as Taylor spilled a catch off Chamara Kapugedera. A few moments Taylor redeemed himself by holding onto a poke from Jayawardene.
From here, Sri Lanka continued to confound New Zealand, ensuring nothing bar rain would come in the way of a 2-0 series win and a prolonged stay at second place in the ICC Test rankings.
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