Daniel Vettori’s 140 runs went in vain as Sri Lanka beat New Zealand by 96 runs in the second cricket Test and swept the series 2-0 on the final day on Sunday. Spinner Rangana Herath took five wickets as the tourists, needing 494 to win, were bowled out for 397 shortly before tea.
The Black Caps entered day 5 at a precarious 182-6, but Vettori and Jacob Oram delayed the inevitable with a 124-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
Vettori brought up his fourth Test hundred and was out last with a career-best 140, improving on his previous best of 137 not out.
He was well caught by Herath off Muttiah Muralitharan after spending more than four hours at the crease, facing 189 balls and hitting 16 boundaries.
“I think the key for us was to show a bit of fight, probably put up a performance that is related to our skill,” Vettori said. “Today to score 400 in the fourth innings is pleasing but still disappointing. ... If we hadn’t lost Jacob just before lunch it would have been an interesting next couple of sessions.”
Tillakaratne Dilshan put the breaks on the Black Caps’ fightback, snaring Oram for 56 runs in the first session caught by Kumar Sangakkara at extra-cover.
Oram faced 148 balls and hit five boundaries in brining up his sixth Test half-century.
The partnership between Vettori and Oram came in 228 balls and came after New Zealand coach Andy Moles on Saturday accused his players for getting out after good starts and not learning from their mistakes. He called for some “character and fight” from his batsmen on the final day.
Later, Vettori combined with tail-ender Iain O’Brien for another valuable 69-run partnership before Herath forced an edge off O’Brien for a catch to wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardena. O’Brien faced 75 balls for his 12 runs.
New Zealand also enjoyed some luck after Vettori survived an edge to slip, then when Herath broke the stumps without the ball in his hand with Vettori still some distance to complete a run.
Herath grabbed four wickets on Saturday to carry Sri Lanka within sight of victory and has the team’s best figures of 5-139. Muralitharan picked up three wickets for 85.
Sangakkara said his team hadn’t performed to expectations despite the win.
“182-6 you expect to go out there and do better than we did,” the Sri Lanka captain said, adding that his players hadn’t fielded well and bowled wayward in the morning session.
“It’s good to walk away with the win but still as I always say, lots of areas to improve,” Sangakkara added. “The time Daniel (Vettori) and Jacob batted, they batted really, really well.”
Sri Lanka declared its second innings on 311-5, helped largely by an imperious 109 from Sangakkara. New Zealand was bowled out for 234 in the first innings in reply to Sri Lanka’s 416.
Mahela Jayawardene, who scored 92 and 96 in the two innings, was named player of the match, and Thilan Samaraweera, who made 159 in the first Test and followed it up with 143 in the second innings of the second Test, was named player of the series. Sri Lanka won the first Test by 202 runs.