COLOMBO: New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming defied the Sri Lankan bowlers for the second time in the match to ensure the first cricket Test ended in a draw here yesterday.
The left-hander, who hit a magnificent 274 not out in the first innings, batted for five hours in the second knock to remain unconquered on 69 and thwart Sri Lanka's late bid to force a result.
The Kiwis, leading by 32 runs on the first innings, slipped to 133-5 in the post-tea session of the fifth and final day's play before Fleming steered them to safety at 161-5 by close.
The docile wicket at the Tamil Union ground proved a bowlers' nightmare in stifling hot and humid conditions as New Zealand piled up 515-7 declared in their first innings and Sri Lanka replied with 483.
The second and final Test of the short series starts in the hill resort of Kandy on Saturday but heavy rains in the area over the past three days have raised doubts of a full match being played.
The first Test was dominated by the rival captains as Sri Lanka's newly-appointed skipper Hashan Tillakaratne responded to his counterpart's maiden double century with a dour 144 of his own.
In the morning session, left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori grabbed three wickets in five balls to help New Zealand secure a first innings lead.
Sri Lanka, who resumed their first innings at the overnight score of 424-6, were bowled out for 483 an hour after the start of the final day's play.
Tillakaratne took his score from 126 to 144 when his marathon eight-hour knock ended, the left-hander playing Shane Bond on to his stumps.
Tillakaratne's 11th Test century contained 24 boundaries.
New Zealand lost Scott Styris and Jacob Oram on either side of tea and Robbie Hart soon after as Muralitharan finally hit form, but it came too late in the match to help Sri Lanka win.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, retained the same 15-man squad for the second Test. – AFP