At Moratuwa, September 8, 9, 10, 12, 13. Drawn. Toss: Australia.
Rain carried by the south-west monsoon ruined a match pregnant with possibilities at the Tyronne Fernando Stadium, Test cricket's 67th ground. But the poor weather did not deter the largest crowds of the series. They generously applauded Border, who dragged the Australians back from the brink twice - coming in at 57 for four and nine for four. In the first innings, though Waugh departed almost at once, Border added 127 for the sixth wicket with Matthews and, with the pugnacious Healy, 67 for the seventh. Such was their defiance that Australia recovered from 58 for five to reach 337, after electing to have first use of the hardest and truest pitch they had encountered. Meanwhile, Border scored his 24th Test hundred in his 133rd match, becoming the first Australian to register centuries against six countries. It was his first Test hundred for four years, in which time he had played 36 Tests and made 21 fifties; his second-innings 78 made him the first player to amass 80 Test scores of fifty or more, beating S. M. Gavaskar's 79.
The opposing captain, Ranatunga, also reached a landmark; when 25 he became the first Sri Lankan to reach 2,000 runs in Test cricket. It was his 61st innings in his 36th match since making his Test debut, along with Sri Lanka, in February 1982. But his team's batting was indifferent, and they seemed to have lost their enthusiasm for the game; they eagerly accepted the offer of bad light against the spinners, and declined a suggestion that they might make up time on the rest day. Seemingly unalarmed by a first-inings deficit of 63, Sri Lanka raised the hopes of their supporters when Ramanayake and Liyange again exposed the weaknesses in Australia's batting. Indeed, if Jayasuriya at silly point had not missed a sharp chance when Border was 19, off Anurasiri, Australia would have been in a far worse predicament at 51 for five. They were already in deep shock after Waugh was out for a pair for the second consecutive Test, a disaster that had only previously befallen five players (R. J. Crisp, W. M. Clark, R. G. Holland, R. Peel and P. I. Pocock), none of them of comparable batting distinction. But Matthews, with his fifth consecutive half-century of the series, and the dependable Healy eased any embarassment after the loss of yet more time - three and a quarter hours - to rain on the final day. One joker added an extra touch to the statue of St Joseph positioned near the pavilion, supposedly to ward off foul weather: an umbrella.