Galle: A dramatic collapse of nine wickets for 83 runs, five of which went to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, set the tone for a crushing Sri Lankan win over New Zealand before tea on day three. From an overnight 34 for 1, New Zealand slumped to 118 all out with Herath taking his match tally to 11 for 108 and becoming the leading Test wicket-taker for 2012, surpassing England's Graeme Swann with 46 victims in just his seventh match.
In pursuit of a target of 93 Sri Lanka galloped home in 18.3 overs thanks to a fluent maiden half-century from debutant Dimuth Karunaratne, who became the third Sri Lanka batsman to score a fifty debut on duck after Roy Dias and Athula Samarasekara. This was New Zealand's fifth consecutive defeat, giving them their worst losing streak since 1954-55 when they lost six matches in a row.
Sri Lanka took control in the first session. Nuwan Kulaseraka struck twice inside the first 40 minutes of play, reducing New Zealand to 46 for 3 with the wickets of Martin Guptill (13), bowled by one that straightened from middle stump, and Kane Williamson (10) who was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.
A dramatic collapse of 9 for 83 on day three set Sri Lanka a target of 93, which they achieved without loss thank to debutant Dimuth Karunaratne's unbeaten 60.
Having dismissed Brendon McCullum before stumps on Sunday, Herath took his second wicket in the 26th over of New Zealand's second innings when Ross Taylor played forward to an arm ball and was hit on the pads in front of middle stump for 18. In the 30th over, Herath removed James Franklin in unusual manner. The batsman advanced to Herath but was beaten in flight, and the ball sneaked through his legs. Prasanna, however, failed to collect the ball cleanly but still effected the stumping as the ball deflected off his chest and disturbed a bail.
In the 34th over, Herath removed Daniel Flynn and Doug Bracewell in successive deliveries. An uncertain Flynn was bowled for 20 when playing a nothing shot, and next ball Bracewell was trapped plumb in front of middle and leg. Tim Southee averted the hat-trick but was dismissed by Suraj Randiv off the last ball of the morning session. Like Franklin, Southee was deceived in the air but this time it was a straightforward stumping for Prasanna.
In the first over after lunch, Herath picked up his sixth wicket of the innings as New Zealand slumped to 97 for 9. Jeetan Patel was the man dismissed for a golden duck, flicking to short leg where the ball nestled between the fielder's legs. Herath's overall tally at Galle now stands at 46 wickets from eight Tests, at an average of 20.30. In 2012, Herath has pouched a staggering 28 wickets in three Tests, with both his career ten-wicket hauls coming at this venue in the same year.
The No. 11 Trent Boult clubbed Randiv for successive sixes as New Zealand crossed 100, but the bowler had his revenge as the innings folded for 118.
Karunaratne, who made 0 in the first innings, made up with unbeaten run-a-ball 60 studded with nine boundaries. The 24-year-old's flicking and cutting was the standout feature of his half-century, which was reached in just 56 deliveries. Two boundaries off Bracewell, both pulled by Karunaratne through square leg, sealed a most emphatic win for Sri Lanka. Tharanga Paranavitana, after a slow start, opened up with a four and six off Jeetan Patel and remained unbeaten on 31 off 51 balls.
With this crushing win, Mahela Jayawardene equalled Sanath Jayasuriya's record of most wins by a Sri Lankan captain - 18.