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At Hamilton, March 14, 15, 16, 17. New Zealand won by 120 runs. Toss: New Zealand. Test debut: K. S. C. De Silva.
Teenage left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori took nine for 130 in his fourth Test to give New Zealand their first series win since their visit to Zimbabwe in 1992-93. It was the first time they had won consecutive Tests since they beat Pakistan twice in 1984-85.
A slow pitch of uneven bounce was below Test standard, and was dug up a few weeks later. Pocock anchored New Zealand's otherwise undistinguished first effort of 222 with 85, an innings whose significance grew clearer as the game developed. It was to be the highest score of the match and further enhanced Pocock's right to the opener's spot. None of his colleagues reached 30 on that first day, and the Sri Lankans struggled even more. Their coach, Bruce Yardley, criticised their lack of patience and shot selection; only Mahanama displayed the necessary commitment, batting 137 minutes for 45. The once-erratic Davis continued his rehabilitation, taking five in an innings for the first time, but Vettori as just behind him with four for 46, his best figures yet, and Sri Lanka conceded a lead of 52.
New Zealand effectively batted them out of the match by extending that to 325, thanks to half-centuries from Young, Fleming and Astle. When off-spinner Muralitharan bowled Fleming, it was his 100th Test wicket - he was the first Sri Lankan to achieve the landmark, in his 27th Test. But, although he picked up six wickets here, he did not seem to bowl with the confidence to put the home batsmen, often suspect against quality spin, under pressure. Vettori, on the other hand, bowled with relish on his own ground. He had come within sight of earning New Zealand victory over England in his second Test; this time he completed the job, improving on the best analysis of his short career yet again by taking another five wickets. He might also have had Dharmasena - he appeared to have bowled him, dislodging one bail, but Parore knocked off the other bail, appealing for a stumping, which was turned down by the third umpire.
Again, Mahanama was Sri Lanka's most determined batsman, holding out more than four hours for his 65, the second-highest score of the match. Their best stand came when he and Ranatunga added 79 for the fifth wicket; it ended when Ranatunga played a poor shot to be caught by Doull at deep square leg. Aravinda de Silva, the tourists' star on their visit in 1990-91, when he scored 493 in five innings, ended a disastrous series with a total of nine runs. For the second time running, New Zealand had won with a day to spare.
Man of the Match: D. L. Vettori.
Close of play: First day, New Zealand 222; Second day, New Zealand 53-1 (B. A. Young 22*, M. J. Horne 14*); Third day, Sri Lanka 20-2 (R. S. Mahanama 6*, W. P. U. J. C. Vaas 0*).