At Kandy, November 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. Sri Lanka won by 131 runs. Toss: Sri Lanka.
West Indies came agonisingly close to saving the match before Muralitharan hurried out the last four wickets for four runs in 21 balls to secure the series for Sri Lanka. It had been another one-sided affair, despite the loss of 130 overs to rain. Yet luck did not go West Indies' way. They had reinforced the pace attack by introducing Collins, but were soon down to two fast men again
when Stuart bowled two beamers in the fifth over and was banned for the rest of the innings. And on the final day there were realistic hopes of a draw when they went into tea with six wickets standing. But Lara, who had batted for two and a quarter hours, was given out second ball on resumption, caught at short leg off a shot he clearly played into the ground. He lingered for a moment in disbelief before trudging off - and, as it turned out, taking West Indies' hopes with him.
The match had a bizarre start, when its fifth over was completed by three bowlers. Dillon had trapped Atapattu in his first over, but then, feeling unwell, left the field after two balls of his third. Stuart was asked to finish the over but sent down two unintentional head-high full tosses in three balls to Jayasuriya. Under ICC regulations, umpire Hampshire had no alternative but to direct the captain to remove him for the rest of the innings, the first instance of its kind in Test cricket. Gayle then bowled the last three balls of the over.
Even so, West Indies' surviving bowlers prospered during the next hour, reducing Sri Lanka to 53 for four on a pitch that offered encouragement. But the attack's shortcomings were exposed by a stand of 116 between Jayawardene and Tillekeratne, who put on a further 80 with Samaraweera before he was bowled; it was Tillekeratne's first dismissal in 975 minutes spread over four Tests. Rain prolonged Sri Lanka's innings into the third day, when they were finally out for 288.
Zoysa made up for eight months out of Test cricket by claiming a wicket with his first ball before the weather closed in again. But on the fourth day, West Indies were an encouraging 126 for three, with Lara and Hooper together. Then Muralitharan set in train the customary breakdown, removing Hooper and Samuels at the same score. Vaas, who had recently learned the art of reverse-swinging the old ball, joined in, taking the next four wickets in five overs, before Lara was last out, lbw to Muralitharan. Six West Indians failed to score.
Atapattu confidently set about building on a lead of 97, adding 89 with Jayasuriya and 87 with Sangakkara. Sri Lanka batted on for 20 overs on the final morning, running up another 96, before Jayasuriya's declaration set West Indies an improbable 322 to win.
Sarwan and Lara fought stoutly for most of the afternoon, and even Lara's untimely removal immediately after tea did not sink them: Samuels and Dillon spent an hour adding 59 for the seventh wicket, and appeared likely to deny Sri Lanka, who were unable to bowl Vaas because of the darkening skies. Then Muralitharan changed ends, and soon afterwards made the breakthrough. But there were only 16 minutes to spare when his off-break rolled back from Stuart's defensive stroke to dislodge a bail. That gave Muralitharan ten wickets in a Test for the ninth time, equalling Richard Hadlee's record, and the fourth Test in succession, breaking Clarrie Grimmett's record of three consecutive Tests against South Africa in 1935-36.
Man of the Match: M. Muralitharan.
Close of play: First day, Sri Lanka 193-5 (Tillekeratne 60, Samaraweera 4); Second day, Sri Lanka 273-8 (Bandaratilleke 9, Zoysa 15); Third day, West Indies 39-1 (Gayle 25, Sarwan 12); Fourth day, Sri Lanka 128-1 (Atapattu 58, Sangakkara 10).