Second Test


Toss: New Zealand.

The morale-sapping injuries which had afflicted New Zealand's seamers throughout this troublesome summer struck again. Morrison and Nash were ruled out, leaving the Auckland trio of Pringle, Su'a and Walmsley to head the attack. New Zealand gambled by putting Sri Lanka in. If anything, the pitch looked likely to take spin later, but off-spinner Thomson was omitted, mainly because of a decline in his batting.

The Sri Lankan openers looked solid enough for the first hour; in the second session New Zealand took the advantage when they claimed four wickets for 28. Though Tillekeratne and Vaas steadied the innings, when Tillekeratne, the last recognised batsman, was seventh out at 157, Sri Lanka had little hope of reaching 200. Then New Zealand's fielding went giddily astray. Wickremasinghe was dropped on six, while Pringle and Rutherford both missed high, slashed catches from Muralitharan - Rutherford split the webbing between two fingers in the process, ending his active service for the match. Faithful Vaas scored 51 in 134 minutes before he was last out, half an hour before stumps. But he was quickly into action once rain permitted a start on the second morning, removing Murray and Greatbatch for ducks at 26.

Fortunately for the New Zealanders, the rain closed in again just before lunch. Resuming, Young was dropped on 21, but he and Fleming struggled through 40 overs to the close and next morning achieved a rare landmark for New Zealand in 1994-95 - a century partnership. But Fleming was run out 14 runs later, and Vaas removed Parore and Young, who batted 381 minutes for his 84, before the total reached 200. A steady three-hour fifty from Patel helped New Zealand to 307, a lead of 74 - exactly the same as their first-innings deficit at Napier. Sri Lanka lost two wickets in drawing level and a third when only seven ahead; New Zealand scented victory again.

However, Gurusinha and Tillekeratne buckled down, adding 129 by stumps and offering only one chance, a very hard one to Young when Tillekeratne was 39. By the final morning the pitch had lost all menace, and the Test any hope of a result as the fourth-wicket pair extended their stand to 192. Gurusinha made a monumental 127, his sixth Test century, in 516 minutes with 11 fours and a six, while Tillekeratne scored his second in five and a half hours, with 14 fours. Arjuna Ranatunga looked likely to become the third century-maker until he was last out for a rapid 90. Sri Lanka led by 337; Vaas bowled one ball of New Zealand's second innings before the umpires agreed that the light was too bad. The draw ensured Sri Lanka's first overseas series win.

Man of the Match: W. P. U. J. C. Vaas.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 7-0 (B. A. Young 6*, D. J. Murray 0*); Second day, New Zealand 95-2 (B. A. Young 44*, S. P. Fleming 39*); Third day, Sri Lanka 0-0 (A. P. Gurusinha 0*, D. P. Samaraweera 0*); Fourth day, Sri Lanka 210-3 (A. P. Gurusinha 92*, H. P. Tillekeratne 68*).

© John Wisden & Co