Second Test Match

Sri Lanka v New Zealand

Brian Murgatroyd

At Kandy, May 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 2003. Drawn. Toss: New Zealand.

Sri Lanka's crushingly negative approach on the last day condemned a rain-affected match to a draw, just when it seemed that a positive result - or at least a thrilling finish - was possible. The stalemate left many spectators bewildered and disappointed, and kept the series tied at 0-0.

After Sri Lanka grabbed six wickets before lunch on the last day, New Zealand were left precariously placed, just 151 ahead, with seven wickets down. But instead of attacking after the interval, Tillekeratne posted three fielders on the boundary. As a result, Hart and Wiseman were able to survive largely untroubled for 28 overs, and New Zealand extended their innings until tea before finally being dismissed. Even then, Sri Lanka's task of scoring 191 in 38 to win the series was stiff but by no means impossible: their side was full of talented strokemakers, the pitch was still sound and Vettori was only half-fit. After Jayasuriya blazed two early fours it looked like the chase was on, but when he was deceived by a slower ball and miscued to mid-on, the shutters came down. The good-sized crowd that had filtered in, hoping for some excitement, drifted away again.

The match had begun on a flat note too. No play was possible until mid-afternoon on the second day after heavy rain during the build-up made parts of the outfield into a bog, calling into question the wisdom of staging internationals at a rainy time of year. New Zealand then made a disastrous start, slumping to 11 for three as Vaas and the strapping and promising Nissanka (deputising in this series for the injured Dilhara Fernando) exploited early movement. New Zealand recovered, with Oram hitting a patient and assured maiden Test fifty. Vettori continued the good work. Against an increasingly frustrated attack, he hung in while 68 runs were added for the last two wickets, and had reached 55 when he was run out - in painful circumstances. Trying to pinch a quick single he clattered into Atapattu, who had charged in to make the run-out. The net result was a sprained ankle for Vettori, concussion for Atapattu and the end of New Zealand's innings of 305.

Jayasuriya launched the Sri Lanka reply in positive style but when he fell, edging Wiseman's off-spin to slip for 82, the innings slipped into a self-induced coma. Only Kaluwitharana and Vaas tried to play positively. By the time Tillekeratne was last out, missing an attempted cut late on the fourth day to become the persevering Wiseman's fourth victim, Sri Lanka were still seven runs behind.

At that point, with less than four sessions to play, the match seemed to have nowhere to go, but New Zealand tried their best to set up a run-chase, with Richardson scoring his third half-century in three completed innings. The plan came unstuck thanks to some excellent pre-lunch bowling by Sri Lanka which suggested a different sort of finish. However, their subsequent negative tactics ruined their own chances. Muralitharan took his 450th Test wicket when he dismissed Tuffey, and in the process completed his 37th five-wicket haul in Tests, passing Sir Richard Hadlee's record of 36.

Close of play: First day, No play; Second day, New Zealand 75-4 (Richardson 32, Oram 0); Third day, Sri Lanka 94-2 (Jayasuriya 53, Tillekeratne 10); Fourth day, New Zealand 92-1 (Richardson 51, Fleming 10).

© John Wisden & Co