New Zealand bounced back in style to win the final Test at the P Sara Oval by an innings and 65 runs against Sri Lanka. (Image credit: Sri Lanka Twitter)
New Zealand would be feeling that cricket is an unfair game. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 final against England was the ultimate humdinger with the regular match and the super over ending in a tie but England were declared winners due to a superior boundary count. The first Test at Galle saw Dimuth Karunaratne play an inspired knock to register a record win as Sri Lanka caused an upset. In the second Test at the P Sara Oval, rain had spoilt three out of the five days. However, New Zealand dug deep and in an inspired performance on the final day, Kane Williamson's team bowled Sri Lanka out for 122 to register an innings and 65-run win on Monday.
For Sri Lanka, this was their sixth loss in eight games at the P Sara Oval while for New Zealand, this was their second straight win after their epic win in 2012. New Zealand became the third non-Asian country after Australia and South Africa to inflict an innings defeat on Sri Lanka at home, with Australia and South Africa being the others.
Resuming the fifth day of the match, Colin de Grandhomme fell cheaply but Tim Southee struck a couple of sixes and BJ Watling notched up yet another century as New Zealand declared on 431/6, giving themselves a lead of 187 runs. In response, Sri Lanka started disastrously as Lahiru Thirimanne was run-out without troubling the scorers. Two overs later, Trent Boult got rid of Kusal Perera and Sri Lanka were in trouble.
Williamson made a bowling change and immediately, it reaped dividends for New Zealand with De Grandhomme getting the wicket of Angelo Mathews for 7. With Dimuth Karunaratne allowed to bat only at number seven due to the time that he spent off the field due to his injury, the Sri Lankan top order struggled. Dhananjaya de Silva, who had hit a century in the first innings, fell for 1 as Ajaz Patel struck. Kusal Mendis, who had played some confident strokes, was bowled by William Somerville for 20, New Zealand sensed a brilliant win.
Following the lunch break, Karunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella buckled down and looked to get Sri Lanka to safety. Karunaratne looked solid and did not take unnecessary risks while Dickwella slowly built upon his innings after a cautious start. In the first hour after the lunch break, Sri Lanka had negotiated the spinners and pacers well and Dickwella's confidence grew with two fours off Somerville. However, Southee took his 250th wicket and became the fourth New Zealand bowler to achieve the feat after he trapped Karunaratne LBW for 21. When Southee took the wicket of Dilruwan Perera, the onus was on Dickwella to do something special.
Dickwella found an able ally in Suranga Lakmal and the duo batted out 17 overs as the conditions started to deteriorate in Colombo. Lakmal took some chances while Dickwell tackled the spinners well as New Zealand were running out of time. However, Somerville broke the stand when Lakmal edged a flatter, spinning delivery to short leg. Dickwella notched up his fifty but when Dickwella fell to Ajaz Patel, caught by Latham for 51, the game was up and Boult wrapped up proceedings as New Zealand ended the Test series on level terms.