Sri Lanka's young 'uns under the leadership of Mahela Jayawardene gave a good account of themselves in the opening day of the 3-day match, by bowling out the New Zealand tourists for 274 at the Sara Stadium yesterday.
By the close, the Board President's XI had replied with 60 for one, with schoolboy Upekha Fernando contributing 32 of them with seven fours, many of them hit over the slips cordon, and Mahela Jayawarddene 19.
Another schoolboy Pradeep Hewage drafted into the side late after Avishka Gunawardana had taken ill the previous day playing in a Mercantile match, lost his wicket at three when he edged an outswinger from Simon Doull to wicket-keeper Adam Parore.
New Zealand who preferred to bat first after winning the toss, failed to come to terms with a slow and sluggish pitch. With the exception of opener Bryan Young, who is best remembered here for the unbeaten double century he took off the Sri Lankan attack at Dunedin last year, the New Zealand top order batsmen got into double figures but none went on to make a big score.
Young was out for a duck in the second over attempting a cut. Top scorer for the tourists was wicket-keeper Adam Parore who batted 129 minutes for 53 which comprised four fours and a six.
Nathan Astle hit an entertaining 42 off 35 balls with five fours, but the majority of the batsmen were dismissed playing the sweep shot.
Left-arm spinner Niroshan Bandaratilake once again impressed taking four for 80 off 28.1 overs, and Jayawardene bowled five tight overs for a the wicket of Chris Harris. The other two successful bowlers Ruchira Perera and Tilan Samaraweera shared four wickets.
New Zealand had an early scare when opener Craig Spearman, who is fighting for an opener's berth with Young, took a blow on the side of his jaw from left-arm fast bowler Ruchira Perera. Spearman then on 31, continued to bat after receiving medical attention on the ground, but did not last long giving Perera a catch at backward square-leg.
He was taken to a nearby hospital for a precautionary X'ray which revealed only bruising.
Manoj Mendis also received a blow on his helmet fielding at short leg-off a powerful pull from Chris Cairns, but showed no ill-effects and continued to field.
Day 2: Kiwis fight back - lead by 147
New Zealand fought back strongly through their spinners to gain a handy first innings lead of 70 runs by dismissing the Board President's XI for 204 on the second of the 3-day match played at the Sara Stadium yesterday.
By the close brought forward by 15 minutes due to poor light, New Zealand had extended the lead to 147 by scoring 77 for the loss of openers Craig Spearman for 28 and Bryan Young for 14.
Both batsmen succumbed to spinners, Spearman failing to read Tilan Samaraweera's off-break which went on to clip the off-bail and Young caught at the wicket playing forward to Niroshan Bandaratillake.
The Board President's XI began the day promisingly placed at 60 for one wicket but were soon struggling against the spin of Paul Wiseman, Daniel Vettori and Chris Harris.
New Zealand's acting captain Chris Cairns used only three overs of pace before reverting to an all-spin attack which went onto destroy the Board XI batting.
Vettori made the initial breakthrough for the day having schoolboy Upekha Fernando bowled round his legs for 36 in the seventh over. Four overs later Vettori sent back the other overnight batsman Mahela Jayawardene the captain for 38 by forcing him to edge to slip where Young took the first of three catches.
Sanjeewa Ranatunga hit a chancy 39 which turned out to be the top score of the innings. The left-hander lived a charmed life being dropped twice off Vettori before he had scored and then again at 15 and 36 before Wiseman finally had him caught behind.
Wiseman broke the back of the batting by striking twice in the first over after lunch to get rid of Naveed Nawaz for 23 and Manoj Mendis without scoring. The innings went into decline from there onwards and the Board XI were eventually all out at tea.
With figures of 5 for 65 off 25 overs 28-year-old uncapped Wiseman from Otago has certainly put forward an early claim for a Test debut in the first match of a three Test series starting at the R. Premadasa Stadium on August 27.
Vettori gave Wiseman good support to finish with 3 for 55 off 29 overs while Harris chipped in with economical figures of one for 11 in 10 overs of leg-spin.
Overall it was a disappointing batting performance from the young 'uns who are expected to shape the future Sri Lanka teams. New Zealand enjoyed a good day on the field and should be most impressed with Wiseman's performance.
Day 3: Board XI do well to hold the Kiwis
New Zealand's 3-day lung-opener of their seven-week tour of Sri Lanka against a Board President's XI ended in a tame draw at the Sara Stadium yesterday.
The tourists closed their innings at lunch on the third and final day at 178 for 5 with the hope of dismissing the opposition in two sessions. However, the Board President's XI left with a target of 249 for victory in a minimum of 59 overs, proved equal to the task, and finished on 157 for 5. A sudden downpour ended the game with five of the scheduled 15 mandatory overs remaining.
Much of New Zealand's chances of a victory rested largely on their three spinners, Daniel Vettori, Paul Wiseman and Chris Harris. But the slow pitch defeated their efforts. Despite setting attacking fields by acting captain Chris Cairns, the spinners failed to breakthrough as they had done in the first innings.
Cairns surprised everyone by opening the bowling with Vettori, who is expected to play a major role in New Zealand's success in the Test series. The tall left-arm spinner failed to take a wicket bowling 20 overs for 50 runs.
Harris with his leg-cutters turned out to be the most successful taking the wickets of local captain Mahela Jayawardene for 40 and Sanjeewa Ranatunga for 16 - both batsmen being caught on the leg side. He finished with 2 for 19 off nine overs.
Jayawardene followed his first innings 38 with a patient knock in the second, using up 137 minutes and hitting three fours. By being named in the Board President's XI squad for the 3-day game in Kandy it seems that Jayawardene is being groomed to take the No. 3 spot in the Tests, ahead of Roshan Mahanama.
Jayawardene's stylish knock of 40 turned out to be the highest individual score made for local side in this low scoring match, which produced only one score of over fifty.
New Zealand wicketkeeper Adam Parore, made 53 in the first innings and followed it up with an unbeaten 35 in the second innings.
Left-arm spinner Niroshan Bandaratilake once again bowled impressively to finish with 3 for 47 and seven wickets in the match, a performance one hopes the national selectors will take note of. Tilan Samaraweera's off-breaks proved an ideal foil. He took four in the match.
Early morning rain delayed the start by 40 minutes but the lost time was made up by pushing back the close.