First Test match


Toss: Sri Lanka. Test debut: D. N. T. Zoysa.

New Zealand completed their first home Test win for three years through a remarkable innings from Young backed up by the right-arm swing of Doull. Young scored an unbeaten 267, the seventh double-hundred for New Zealand, and second only to Martin Crowe's 299, also against Sri Lanka, at Wellington in 1990-91. Likewise, New Zealand's total of 586 for seven had been beaten only by their 671 for four in the same match.

Young's one previous Test century, 120 against Pakistan in 1993-94, had set up his team's last home victory. He cut and drove with hardly a blemish, and batted right through the innings for 605 minutes, facing 421 balls and striking 37 fours. He shared century partnerships with Horne and Cairns, while his captain, Fleming, hit 51 in 59 balls out of a stand of 76.

Sri Lanka had put New Zealand in, only to see them bat until tea on the second day. On the first morning, the debutant Zoysa forced several false shots without reward. He deserved better figures than one for 112: his fellow left-armer, Vaas, was far luckier in picking up four. Young was warned of the declaration an hour before it came, and was happy to sacrifice further personal milestones for the team cause. It soon paid off, when Doull and Davis reduced Sri Lanka to 78 for four by stumps. Ranatunga was out first thing next morning and a promising sixth-wicket stand of 56 ended when a ball from Patel stuck between Kaluwitharana's glove and pad, and Fleming raced in to claim a catch before it hit the ground. Umpire Robinson gave it out and referee Burge initially confirmed that the ball was still in play. This was the reverse of the decision made by umpire Hair in similar circumstances in the Christchurch Test three weeks earlier. Burge, who was the referee then as well, later implied that the first ruling had been correct, saying that, in future, he thought such a ball should be considered dead. He called for Law 23 to be reviewed.

Despite an unbeaten 55 from Tillekeratne and some later hitting from Wickremasinghe, Sri Lanka were dismissed for a disappointing 222 and followed on 364 behind. They improved the second time, thanks to a century from Kaluwitharana at No. 7. He scored 103 from as many balls, hitting 13 fours and two sixes. It was still an exceptionally good pitch, and he and Vaas regained some pride in adding 137 for the seventh wicket in 109 minutes.

But, after they had gone, Doull finished off the game with more than a day to spare. Doull's match figures were eight for 140; in the first innings, he had taken his third five-wicket bag of the season, following those against Pakistan and England. He had given New Zealand the bowling edge, but the match award deservedly went to Young, who had been on the pitch throughout.

Man of the Match: B. A. Young.

Close of play: First day, New Zealand 343-4 (B. A. Young 154*, D. L. Vettori 1*); Second day, Sri Lanka 78-4 (A. Ranatunga 13*, H. P. Tillekeratne 7*); Third day, Sri Lanka 37-0 (S. T. Jayasuriya. 20*, R. S. Mahanama 15*).

© John Wisden & Co