The BLACKCAPS started the final day a mammoth 312 runs behind with only four wickets in hand but Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori were determined not to go down without a fight.
They shared a defiant 124 run partnership and both brought up half centuries but on the stroke of lunch Oram had a lapse in concentration and spooned one straight to cover off part-time bowler Tillarkaratne Dilshan for 56.
Jeetan Patel went cheaply, attempting a sweep shot and was caught at short leg off Muttiah Muralitharan leaving Iain O’Brien to support Vettori through to his fourth Test century.
It was a gutsy knock from the BLACKCAPS captain, full of immense concentration, grit and determination – traits missing from others in the batting line up.
O’Brien’s vigil was ended when he was caught behind for 12 to be Rangana Herath’s fifth wicket. He battled admirably for 79 minutes and shared a 69 run partnership for the ninth wicket with Vettori.
The BLACKCAPS captain was the last to go, realising he had to hit out if the team had any chance of reaching the target and was caught in the deep giving Murlaitharan his third wicket and handing Sri Lanka a 96 run win.
The 140 is Vettori’s highest score, capping an outstanding individual series that saw him top New Zealand’s run scoring list with 272 and wicket taking list with 10 as well as surpassing the milestone of 300 wickets and 3000 runs in Test cricket.
The BLACKCAPS next match is a Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka on Wednesday 2 September (Sri Lanka time).
DAY FOUR: Tough task for BLACKCAPS
Sri Lanka spent the morning patiently adding to their lead with Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene taking their partnership through to 173 before Patel broke through, snaring the wicket of Sangakarra for 109.
It was classic innings from the Sri Lankan captain, showing a full array of shots including 12 fours and a six.
The home team had built a lead of 470 by lunch but with Jayawardene on 90 a declaration didn’t come.
The persistence of Daniel Vettori was rewarded with the wicket of Thilan Samaraweera who didn’t pick the arm ball, getting trapped LBW.
The BLACKCAPS attack continued to bowl tightly and built pressure on Jayawardene who was edging towards his tenth century at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground. But for the second time in the match he was dismissed in the 90’s bringing about the declaration with Sri Lanka leading by 493.
Martin Guptill and Tim McIntosh once again failed to put together an opening stand of any substance with McIntosh back in the hut with after 10 overs when he shouldered arms to a Dammika Prasad delivery that clipped his off stump.
Four overs later Guptill was on his way for 28 when he pushed at a turning ball from Rangana Herath and was caught behind.
Ross Taylor and Daniel Flynn managed 56 for the third wicket before Taylor got a peach of ball from Herath that drifted in, pitched outside leg, turned back and glanced the edge, having him caught at first slip for 27.
Flynn was Herath’s third wicket, trapped LBW, ending a dogged innings of 50 with the BLACKCAPS looking shaky on 131 for four.
The wickets continued to fall as Brendon McCullum’s horror run continued, dragging a wide ball onto the stumps giving Muttiah Muralitharan his first for the innings.
Jesse Ryder was the next to go late in the day, out LBW to Herath for 38.
Jacob Oram (7*) and Daniel Vettori (5*) negotiated the remaining 11 balls as the BLACKCAPS end the day 312 runs behind with four wicket in hand.
DAY THREE: Sangakkara extends lead to 339
Sri Lanka were batting by lunch as their spinners ripped through the BLACKCAPS batting line up, taking the last five wicket for 75 runs to have them all out for 234.
Brendon McCullum looked out of touch all morning, surviving a series of close calls before guiding one to first slip off Muttiah Muralitharan for 18.
Ross Taylor outstanding innings of 81 came to an end the very next over when he edged one into his pads and was caught at short leg with the score on 183.
It was up to Jacob Oram (24) and Daniel Vettori (23) to guide the BLACKCAPS past the follow on of 216, which they did, but couldn’t add many more as Sri Lanka quickly took the three remaining wickets to give themselves a lead of 182.
Spinners Muralitharan and Herath were the best of the Sri Lankan attack, taking three wickets each.
Openers Tillarkartne Dilshan and Tharanga Paranavitana put on 56 for the first wicket before Dilshan charged down the pitch and mistimed a Jeetan Patel delivery, getting caught at long on.
Sri Lanka were happy to play low-risk cricket and work the ball around for the rest of the session but Daniel Vettori broke through shortly before tea to get Paranavita caught behind. Replays suggested he was unlucky as the ball appeared to miss the bat.
Captain Kumar Sangakkara brought up his second half century of the match with two lusty blows off Jeetan Patel, the first a four down the ground followed by a straight six.
At the other end Jayawardene was happy to play a support role as they settled in, sharing an unbeaten 68 run partnership before the rain came and play was abandoned for the day.
Sri Lanka will resume tomorrow on 157 for two with Sangakkara on 64 and Jayawardene on 23 – 339 runs ahead.
DAY TWO: Taylor half century steadies the inning
Iain O’Brien took the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene, eight short of his century but there was little else to get excited about in the morning session for the BLACKCAPS as Sri Lanka went to lunch at 372 for five after starting the day on 262 for three.
Thilan Samaraweera started the day in aggressive fashion but stalled in the nervous nineties, eventually bringing up his tenth Test century after spending five overs on 99.
The BLACKCAPS bowlers continued to plug away on the lifeless track, with Chris Martin rewarded when he induced a false shot from Prasanna Jayawardene who tried to hook him out of the park, reducing the home team to 389 for six.
That sparked a collapse with Jeetan Patel getting two wickets in two balls, firstly nicking out Dammika Prasad for six and then trapping Rangana Herath in front for a duck.
The 400 came up in the 127th over as the Muttiah Muralitharan and Samaraweera accelerated the run rate before Samaraweera’s fine innings was ended when he became Patel’s fourth victim of the day.
Samaraweera, who brought up 1000 runs for the calendar year, hit 17 fours and a six in his marathon innings of 143 before walking when he got a faint touch on the ball when attempting a reverse sweep.
Daniel Vettori picked up the last wicket of Thilan Thushara to cap an excellent middle session for the BLACKCAPS that saw them take five wicket for 27 runs, keeping Sri Lanka to 413 after it looked like a 500 plus score was on the cards.
Patel, who was punished by the Sri Lankan batsmen in the first Test, completed a remarkable comeback taking four for 78 with O’Brien also putting in an improved performance to finish with two for 73.
The BLACKCAP openers were positive putting on 14 in the first two overs before Tim McInstosh was unfortunately given out LBW for five when the ball looked to be missing the off stump.
Seamer Thilan Thushara was wayward in his first few overs but then got a ball to hold it’s line inducing a prod from Daniel Flynn that glanced the outside edge to have him caught behind for 13.
The BLACKCAPS were teetering on 51 for two and Martin Guptill compounded the problem when he was caught in the deep for 35 shortly after tea.
It was up to Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder to steady the innings and they did so, sharing an 85 run partnership before Ryder was caught at short leg off the spin bowing of Ranagana Herath for 23 with only six overs remaining in the days play.
Night watchman Jeetan Patel didn’t stick around, getting caught at slip when attempting a sweep shot off Muttiah Muralitharan leaving Brendon McCullum to play out the remaining overs.
Ross Taylor played sensibly, respecting the bad ball and dispatching the good, bringing up a hard fought half century to end the day with on 70* with and will resume tomorrow with the score on 159 for five .
DAY 1: Sri Lanka in control at stumps on day one
Sri Lanka are 262 for three at the end of the first day of the second Test at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo.
The BLACKCAPS started well, bowling a tight line and length with Chris Martin and Iain O’Brien keeping opener Tillakarantne Dilshan quiet.
Captain Daniel Vettori came on in the 11th over and had an immediate impact, catching the edge of Tharanga Paranavitana, having his caught at first slip for 19.
Neither team had the ascendancy at the break with Sri Lanka 62 for one but it was the BLACKCAPS who got on top shortly after lunch as Iain O’Brien had the dangerous Dilshan caught and bowled for 29.
More pressure was applied with accurate bowling and aggressive fielding leading to Kumar Sangakarra (50) holing out to become Daniel Vettori’s 300th Test scalp.
Vettori becomes the eighth player to take 300 wickets and score 3000 runs in Test cricket, joining an elite group including Sir Richard Hadlee, Ian Botham and Imran Khan.
The remainder of the middle session belonged to the BLACKCAPS who gave nothing away, keeping the home team to 144 for three.
The disciplined bowling was overtaken by disciplined batting as the partnership between Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera gathered momentum after tea, bringing up their 100 run partnership as they reclaimed control of the match.
Jayawardene (79) and Samaraweera (78) will resume their unbeaten fourth wicket partnership of 147 tomorrow.