At Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo, January 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. Sri Lanka won by five wickets. Toss: Zimbabwe.
Sri Lanka's two most experienced cricketers, de Silva and Ranatunga, shared a partnership of 189 -- a Sri Lankan sixth-wicket Test record -- to reach 326, their highest fourth-innings total to win a Test. De Silva made an undefeated 143, his 16th Test century and first against Zimbabwe, and Ranatunga 87 not out as Sri Lanka took the series 2-0. But Zimbabwe could consider themselves unlucky, having come close to their first overseas Test victory. After they set Sri Lanka a target of 326 in five sessions, Streak took four wickets to reduce them to 137 for five. Several times during the ensuing de Silva--Ranatunga stand, the Zimbabweans were most unhappy with decisions in the batsmen's favour, from K. T. Francis and Pakistan's Salim Hadar. Zimbabwe's captain, Campbell, commented wryly: "I don't think Sri Lanka played all that well to win. We didn't play all that badly to lose." His coach, David Houghton, was more outspoken. "I feel like the umpires raped us," he was quoted as saying. Later he said he did not mind about being fined: "It's worth it to let the world know what really happened." Referee Raman Subba Row was forced to take different action to keep the peace and banned him from the ground during two of the one-day internationals that followed.
De Silva hit two sixes and 16 fours in an innings which must rank as one of his best, because of the pressure. He batted for 459 minutes and faced 313 balls. At 90, he reached 1.000 runs in his ten Tests on the Sinhalese Sports Club ground: his hundred was his fifth in his last six Test innings there. Ranatunga, handicapped by a back strain which kept him off the field during Zimbabwe's second innings, batted more than five hours, mostly with the aid of a runner. He hit 12 fours.
Finding themselves short of spinners to provide contrast to Muralitharan, Sri Lanka had recalled 31-year-old slow left-armer Don Anurasiri for his first Test in four years. He responded with three wickets on the opening day, including top scorer Goodwin. Zimbabwe declined from 110 for one to 251 all out early on the second morning. But before the close, leg-spinner Strang gave them an unlikely first-innings lead of 26: he took four wickets. Jayasuriya and Mahanama failed to reach double figures for the third time running and Sri Lanka's line-up. like Zimbabwe's, managed only two fifties between them.
Zimbabwe built on their narrow lead, thanks chiefly to Andy Flower. He came in when the fourth wicket fell at 117 and batted throughout the rest of the innings, reaching his fourth Test century with a reverse sweep for four to third man. He was to remain unbeaten on 105, in 336 minutes with one six and ten fours. Vaas could not bowl because of measles, but Muralitharan continued to set national records; when he dismissed Wishart, he became the first Sri Lankan to take 150 Test wickets, in his 36th match.
Sri Lanka began their run-chase disastrously when the pace attack removed two batsmen without scoring. Jayasuriya and de Silva stopped the slide with an entertaining 105 runs in 117 minutes. Jayasuriya was dismissed by Streak for the fourth time in four innings, but at least he made runs this time: a hard-hit 68, including two sixes and eight fours. Streak struck twice more to have Sri Lanka struggling, 188 behind with five wickets left. But that was as close as Zimbabwe got to victory; de Silva and Ranatunga took complete control of the game from there onwards.
Man of the Match: P. A. de Silva.
Man of the Series: M. Muralitharan.