First Test Match

Sri Lanka v New Zealand

Toss: New Zealand. Test debuts: C. M. Bandara, M. R. C. N. Bandaratilleke; P. J. Wiseman.

New Zealand shocked the home team by outplaying them in every department to set up a big win. Once Fleming had won the toss and chosen to bat, everything went right for his side, although their first-innings 305 was fifty short of what they wanted. The captain, who made 78, revealed his well-known absent-mindedness twice - once when he rushed back to the dressing-room to retrieve his box, and later when he played a lazy stroke to bring about his own dismissal. But with wicket-keeper Parore stroking an elegant 67, the New Zealanders at least had a score to bowl to.

Sri Lanka started poorly, with the loss of two quick wickets, before Jayawardene and Kaluwitharana lifted them to within 20 of the opposition. The course of the match was decided when Fleming and McMillan shared an outstanding partnership of 240 in just 222 minutes for the fourth wicket. Fleming scored a career-best 174 not out and McMillan, still 21 but with a mature cricketing mind, offered great support by hitting 142. The Sri Lankan spinners were nullified by decisive footwork and clarity of stroke. New Zealand had ended the third day already strongly placed at 260 for three, with Fleming on 106. He pushed on next morning, adding another 68 runs to his overnight score and watching McMillan go to three figures off just 140 balls. McMillan eventually fell, having hit 13 fours and six sixes in his 179 deliveries. Fleming's innings could yet prove a turning point in his career. Too often he had promised much only to lose concentration. But now he displayed hardened resolve to hit a big century, only the second - compared to 17 fifties - he had mustered in 35 Tests.

Asked to score 465, Sri Lanka had four and a half sessions to bat in conditions they knew well: a docile pitch beginning to take spin. They ended the fourth day on 111 for two. Before De Silva departed for 71 to the first ball after lunch, they looked to have made the game safe. Then came the rot: their last seven wickets fell for just 81 runs. The home crowd was silenced by Wiseman, playing his first Test at the age of 28, who collected five for 82 from a marathon spell of 46.5 overs to end the game shortly after tea.

Man of the Match: S. P. Fleming.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 282-7 ( A. C. Parore 67*, D. L. Vettori 9*); Second day, Sri Lanka 251-7 ( G. P. Wickremasinghe 9*, M. R. C. N. Bandaratilleke 8*); Third day, New Zealand 260-3 ( S. P. Fleming 106*, C. D. McMillan 64*); Fourth day, Sri Lanka 111-2 ( D. P. M. D. Jayawardene 13*, P. A. De Silva 19*).

© John Wisden & Co