Wellington: Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews could only reflect on the old cricketing adage that "catches win matches" as poor fielding let his side down in the second test against New Zealand.
The hosts won the game by 193 runs on Wednesday after completing a remarkable fightback from 159 for five in their second innings, but it was a series of dropped chances that cost Sri Lanka a series-levelling victory.
Kane Williamson and BJ Watling combined for a 365-run sixth-wicket partnership that allowed captain Brendon McCullum to set Sri Lanka a 390-run target in just over a day`s play.
The visitors, who had been keen to try to push for victory on the final day, were dismissed for 196 just before tea, giving New Zealand a 2-0 series win.
Mathews acknowledged that the task would have been much less daunting had they taken their opportunities in the field, particularly with Williamson, who was dropped on 29, 60 and 104.
Wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene also missed a stumping when he had passed 200.
"We were able to put New Zealand under pressure by the third day, but we missed a couple of sitters and good players make it count," Mathews told reporters.
"You can`t really drop those sitters when you are on the way to winning the game and you are desperate to win the game. When you get your chances, you can`t let it go.
"New Zealand grabbed every opportunity that came their way and we didn`t and we have to pay the price.
"We just can`t keep repeating the same old mistakes."
Mathews had said prior to the test at the Basin Reserve his side would push for a win because, as he saw it, losing 1-0 or 2-0 was still a lost series.
The team had been confident of chasing down the 345 runs they needed on the final day, but when they lost Kumar Sangakkara the fire fell out of their chase.
The 37-year-old left hander, who scored a majestic 203 in the first innings, was initially given not out when New Zealand appealed for a caught behind decision, before the hosts asked for a review.
Technology suggested he had got the faintest of edges to the Trent Boult delivery and Sangakkara left the ground shaking his head in disbelief.
"Well to be honest, umpires have a tough job at hand. You can`t really comment on the DRS. You have to be careful with that," Mathews said diplomatically. "That`s the way it goes and unfortunately or fortunately we have to take it as it comes.
"Sanga`s wicket was the crucial one. We had to build our partnerships around him."