At Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo, December 6, 7, 8, 9. Sri Lanka won by nine wickets. Toss: Sri Lanka.
New Zealand's abysmal performance in their first innings enabled Sri Lanka to record a third victory in their 42nd Test, and their first over New Zealand, with four sessions to spare. The star of the Sri Lankan team was Tillekeratne, who had lost the wicket-keeper's job to Gamini Wickremsinghe, but equalled the record of seven field catches in a Test held by G. S. Chappell and Yajurvindra Singh - after making 93, his highest Test score. Mahanama followed up his maiden Test century at Moratuwa with a second in successive innings and the Sri Lankan spinners, Warnaweera, Muralitharan - called up to replace seamer Ramanayake - and Anurasiri, shared 15 wickets in the match.
Ranatunga had opted for first use of a pitch which was beginning to break up and turn by the close of the first day. By then Sri Lanka were already 303 for six, with Mahanama reaching a well-disciplined hundred in 128 balls to provide the platform for Sri Lanka's aspirations. Ranatunga himself contributed 76 and, after Tillekeratne had added 69 for the eighth wicket with Anurasiri, a Sri Lankan Test record, they reached a solid 394. New Zealand were 42 without loss at tea on the second day but lost seven wickets in the final session, four to Warnaweera and two to Muralitharan, with neither Crowe nor Rutherford scoring. Next morning their last three wickets went in 19 balls and New Zealand followed on 292 behind.
Fighting to save his team, Crowe played what he later acknowledged as probably his finest innings. But it did not escape controversy. When 39, Crowe appeared to be caught at silly point but, although umpire Anandappa gave him out, Crowe stood his ground, asking Gurusinha whether it was a fair catch. The fielder could not confirm it, and square-leg umpire Samarasinghe asked Anandappa to rescind his decision. Crowe proceeded to his 15th Test century, from 108 balls, including nine fours and four sixes, and added 159 with Wright for the third wicket. Had it not been for a hamstring injury he might have stayed long enough to save the game. But despite Wright's 50, an attractive 38 from Rutherford and Parore's maiden Test half-century, which helped to keep Sri Lanka out until after lunch on the fourth day, New Zealand could set a target of no more than 70. Sri Lanka knocked them off in under 15 overs.
Man of the Match: H. P. Tillekeratne.
Close of play: First day, Sri Lanka 303-6 (H. P. Tillekeratne 43*, D. K. Liyanage 10*); Second day, New Zealand 100-7 (G. E. Bradburn 1*, M. L. Su'a 1*); Third day, New Zealand 277-6 (A. C. Parore 17*, G. E. Bradburn 5*).