At Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo, March 16, 17, 18, 20, 21. Drawn. Sri Lanka regained lost face by dominating the match and forcing New Zealand to scramble for a draw. They made crease occupation a paramount consideration, sacrificing their more flamboyant style to their own advantage. Losing the toss, Sri Lanka reached 145 for six on an easy pitch by the close of the first day and lost their final four wickets for 29 on the second. New Zealand, having dropped seven catches in close-fielding positions in Sri Lanka's first innings, then batted without direction to take a lead of only 24 in reply. Ravi Ratnayeke, replacing the injured Rumesh Ratnayake, made an outstanding return to international cricket, claiming five for 42 in 21 overs. Dias and Wettimuny then shaped a sizeable lead for Sri Lanka, allowing them to declare 20 minutes before stumps on the fourth day, leaving New Zealand to chase 266 runs for victory in 290 minutes plus twenty overs. Dias recorded his second century in seven Tests, and Wettimuny made a dour 65, retiring hurt with their Sri Lankan-record third-wicket partnership standing at 159 and then returning at the fall of the sixth wicket to be dismissed without adding to his score.
New Zealand, after a poor start, made no chase for the required runs, to the disappointment of the home crowd. Wright batted 275 minutes (206 balls) for 48, which Martin Crowe, suffering from a broken thumb and food poisoning, was unbeaten at the end on 19 after 220 minutes (168 balls) at the crease. He did not hit a boundary until he reached double figures after 210 minutes.
© John Wisden & Co