Sri Lanka handed New Zealand a crushing 10-wicket defeat inside three days yesterday to claim the opener of their two-match series and consign the visitors to a fifth successive Test loss for the first time in 57 years.
Resuming at 35 for one in their second innings on a blameless pitch in Galle, the Black Caps were skittled out for just 118, including the loss of seven wickets for 61 runs in the morning session.
Spinner Rangana Herath was once again the tormentor-in-chief, securing the man-of-the-match award by taking six for 43 to follow up on his first-innings haul of five for 65.
The home side were left requiring just 93 to win and Thranaga Paranavitana (31) and debutant Dimuth Karunaratne (60) knocked off the runs before the tea break.
The defeat meant that for the first time since 1955 — before they won a match at the highest level — New Zealand have lost five Tests in a row, following 2-0 series losses against the West Indies and India earlier this year.
“That’s not a nice statistic to hear and we have got to put it right quickly,” captain Ross Taylor told reporters. “It will be difficult in Colombo [in the next Test] and then in South Africa, it won’t get any easier, but we need to pick ourselves up.”
In New Zealand’s second innings, only Daniel Flynn reached 20 and the highest partnership was a last-wicket stand of 21 between Kruger van Wyk (13 not out) and Trent Boult (13).
Herath ripped the heart out of the New Zealand lineup, trapping Taylor leg before wicket for 18, bowling Flynn, then removing James Franklin and Doug Bracewell in successive deliveries.
The left-armer’s return of 11 for 108 represent the best match figures in the history of Sri Lanka Tests against New Zealand and made him the leading wicket-taker this calendar year.
Herath now has 46 wickets from seven Tests, one more than England’s Graeme Swann, whose six wickets against India in Ahmedabad took him to 45 victims in 11 matches.
“Rangana Herath was amazing and he has taken responsibility after Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] and Lasith Malinga,” Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said.
Seamer Nuwan Kulasekara (2-28) caused the initial damage yesterday morning, bowling Martin Guptill and dismissing Kane Williamson, brilliantly caught down the leg-side by Prasanna Jayawardene.
Off-spinner Suraj Randiv also weighed in with two wickets, dismissing Tim Southee, stumped from the final ball before lunch, and Boult, caught by Mahela Jayawardene at slip.
With Southee, New Zealand’s leading bowler in the first innings, off the field during Sri Lanka’s run-chase because of a groin strain, Karunaratne and Paranavitana knocked off the required runs in 18.3 overs.
INDIA v ENGLAND
India beat England by nine wickets in their series-opening Test in Ahmedabad yesterday to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who made an unbeaten 206 in India’s first innings batting at No. 3, was promoted to open and hit 41 not out to help India reach their 77-run target off 15.3 overs after lunch on the final day. England were earlier dismissed for 406 in their second innings.
“The ball was hard and it was coming nicely onto the bat,” said Pujara, who was named man of match after making 247 runs without being dismissed. “Obviously, I had a lot of confidence after scoring a double-hundred. I was quite positive and I was sighting the ball well.”