Shane Warne and Jason Gillespie were the stars of the show at Kandy, requiring only 6.1 overs on the fifth morning to take the three Sri Lankan wickets which gave Australia an unbeatable 2-0 lead in this three-Test series. Sri Lanka, who started the day needing 51 to win, came unstuck as they tried to sprint towards the target and were eventually bowled out for 324, an agonising 27 runs shy of a remarkable Test win.
Warne, the Man of the Match, followed his first-innings 5 for 65 with 5 for
90, which meant that he had taken five wickets in all
four innings thus far in his comeback series (20 wickets at 15.70). It was
his eighth ten-wicklet haul in Tests, and it rushed his career tally to 511,
giving him an opportunity to break Courtney Walsh's world record of 519 in the final match of the series, which starts in Colombo on Wednesday.
Chaminda Vaas, who began the morning unbeaten on 30, set off aggressively, clearly intent to win the match before Australia took the second new ball, which was due 13 overs into the day. He rode his luck early with an inside edge that whistled past leg stump to the boundary. But he also played some good shots, thumping Gillespie straight down the ground and slog-sweeping Warne to the midwicket fence.
In Warne's second over of the morning, Vaas was given a reprieve as Andrew Symonds dropped a straightforward chance at cover. But
two balls later, Vaas made another mistake, trying to slog-sweep Warne again, to the now well-patrolled leg-side boundary. He mistimed the stroke, and this time Justin Langer snaffled the catch.
Vaas's departure was a blow to Sri Lanka's hopes, but Nuwan Zoysa's
matchwinning performance during the final one-dayer, when he scored
a nerveless 47 not out, still fuelled the hopes of the large crowd. But
Zoysa was unable to make an impression as he tried to hook Gillespie -
who finished with 4 for 76 - and gloved a catch to Adam Gilchrist (320
The tenseness of the situation did not deter Muttiah Muralitharan from his
normal attacking bat-swinging style. Australia had deep-set fields,
but Muralitharan still pierced them to reach the boundary on one occasion. But Kaushal Lokuarachchi was then trapped in front in Warne's next over, ending Sri Lanka's dream. They had chased well ... but not quite well enough.