The second Test ended in a tame draw after crackling briefly back into life on the final day when New Zealand were bowled out for 183. Muttiah Muralitharan did most of the damage, with a record 37th five-wicket haul in Tests. Set 191 to win from 38 overs after tea, Sri Lanka disappointingly settled for a draw soon after Sanath Jayasuriya (9) fell early.
Sri Lanka's only chance of winning was for Jayasuriya, their most destructive batsman, to launch an early assault. Jayasuriya tried, smacking two early boundaries, but was then dismissed tamely when he mistimed a drive. Sri Lanka immediately settled for a draw, disappointing a noisy crowd whose expectations had been raised by Sri Lanka's dramatic fightback with the ball in the first session. The match ended with Sri Lanka at 72 for 1 after 30 overs.
New Zealand had started the final day in a dominant position, leading by 99 runs with nine wickets remaining, but Sri Lanka wrested back the initiative with Muralitharan bowling his heart out, taking the crucial early wicket of Mathew Sinclair (55). He then snared Jacob Oram (16) and the injured Daniel Vettori (0) in quick succession before lunch to have New Zealand tottering at 139 for 7.
However, Muralitharan, who was searching for the one wicket he needed to complete 450 Test wickets, was unable to prise out Hart or Wiseman. Both put together 40 precious runs and occupied the crease for 28.1 overs to give Sri Lanka less time to chase whatever total that New Zealand eventually set.
Chaminda Vaas finally broke through, as Hart feathered a legcutter into Romesh Kaluwitharana's gloves, but by then Sri Lanka's window of opportunity had been closed (179 for 8). Muralitharan then claimed his 450th Test wicket, as Daryl Tuffey (1) skyed a sweep to Jayasuriya at deep square leg, before Vaas wrapped up the innings as Wiseman (29) edged to first slip.
At the start of play, Stephen Fleming and Mark Richardson tried to be positive but soon faltered. Richardson was the first to depart. He added only four runs to his overnight 51 before edging Prabath Nissanka to Kaluwitharana (109 for 2). Sinclair (0) was next deceived by Muralitharan's arm ball (110 for 3). It marked the end of a dismal series for Sinclair, who scored only 21 runs in four innings.
Suddenly it was game on. Sri Lanka attacked with Muralitharan and bottled up the other end with medium-pace bowling. The batsmen lost their way, scoring only five runs in the 44 minutes after the fall of Sinclair. The pressure increased and Vaas, varying his pace intelligently, deceived Scott Styris (1), who lobbed up a catch to Muralitharan at mid-on (115 for 4). New Zealand had lost three wickets for just six runs.
Fleming added 21 with Oram before being scalped by Kumar Dharmasena, the offspinner, as he edged a catch to Kaluwitharana. It was Dharmasena's first wicket of the match. Fleming had scored 33, with three fours (136 for 5).
Muralitharan then swung the match emphatically towards Sri Lanka, trapping Oram lbw with an arm ball, and then bowling the injured Vettori behind his legs shortly before lunch (139 for 7).
But Sri Lanka could not mop up the tail quickly enough, and the match meandered to a soporific draw with the series ending in 0-0.