|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
Zimbabwe did well to stave off a second successive innings defeat but could not prevent Sri Lanka from winning by ten wickets to make a clean sweep of the short series. Once more the tourists' batsmen showed their fallibility to spin and succumbed inside four days; this time Muralitharan and Silva took 13 wickets between them.
The SSC pitch was as grassless as the previous one, but it did offer bounce, so Sri Lanka picked a more balanced attack of two fast bowlers and two spinners. Zimbabwe suffered a big setback when their leading pace bowler, Streak, failed a fitness test on his injured groin; he was replaced by left-arm seamer Bryan Strang.
Having won the toss for the first time on the tour, Campbell showed no hesitation in batting first. His decision looked good when Zimbabwe reached 119 for two by mid-afternoon. He and Grant Flower batted as if they had shaken off the shackles imposed by the spinners. But then Campbell made a rash attempt to hit Silva out of the ground and was stumped. His dismissal triggered a remarkable collapse of eight wickets for 22 runs. Zimbabwe were all out by tea for 141 with Muralitharan and Silva collecting four wickets each.
Sri Lanka consolidated their position through left-handers Gurusinha and Tillekeratne. Gurusinha painstakingly compiled his second fifty of the series, taking almost five hours to score 88. Tillekeratne completed his fifth Test century, and his first at home, shortly before the close of the second day, and carried on the next day to remain undefeated on 126 - his highest score in Tests, occupying 409 minutes and 326 balls with 13 fours. Leg-spinner Paul Strang was again Zimbabwe's main strike bowler, claiming four wickets, with support from brother Bryan, who took three.
Ranatunga declared on 350, 209 ahead, and Zimbabwe made another a poor start, losing their first three wickets for 34. The 37-year-old left-hander Ali Shah steadied the innings, batting nearly five hours for a maiden Test fifty on his first appearance since Zimbabwe's debut season of 1992-93. But it was left to Paul Strang to make sure that Sri Lanka batted again. Coming in at No. 9 when Shah fell at the start of the fourth morning, Strang took over the responsibility of senior partner. Though Zimbabwe still trailed by eight when his brother was ninth over the responsibility of senior partner. Though Zimbabwe still trailed by eight when his brother was ninth out, Strang showed a sound technique and completed his own maiden Test fifty, before hitting a return catch to Vaas. By then, Zimbabwe had gained a slender lead of 26. Jayasuriya and Mahanama needed only 40 balls to knock the runs off.
Man of the Match: H. P. Tillekeratne.
Man of the Series: M. Muralitharan.
Close of play: First day, Sri Lanka 86-3 (A. P. Gurusinha 22*, A. Ranatunga 0*); Second day, Sri Lanka 317-7 (H. P. Tillekeratne 100*, K. R. Pushpakumara 17*); Third day, Zimbabwe 162-6 (A. H. Shah 62*, A. R. Whittall 1*).