New Zealand overcame a blistering assault on their bowling by Sri Lanka Test opener Sanath Jayasuriya to capture seven Board President's XI wickets for 268 runs on the first day of the 3-day tour game at the Asgiriya Stadium yesterday.
Jayasuriya threatened to take apart the New Zealand bowling when he raced to his half-century off 81 balls with two sixes and five fours. He reached 83 in 140 minutes with two sixes and 12 fours, before back cutting Shayne O'Connor to Chris Harris at backward point to end an attractive second wicket stand of 112 in 90 minutes with Mahela Jayawardene.
Jayawardene went onto score an impressive 67 in 172 minutes with 12 fours before being caught bat and pad off left-arm spinner Mark Priest. Priest had earlier missed him at 13 when he put down an easy return catch.
After the departure of these two, the Board President's XI batting lost its momentum and despite Sajith Fernando scoring 25 and Pradeep Hewage 30, New Zealand were able to curb the run flow and pick up wickets at regular intervals to redress the balance.
The first session produced 122 runs after Jayasuriya had won the toss and elected to about first on a slow pitch. The second session produced 80 runs, and the third only 66 runs as New Zealand clawed their way into the match by capturing four wickets in the session, two of them with the second new ball.
Skipper Stephen Fleming was forced to shuffle his bowlers around and the brunt of the bowling fell on Priest, after off-spinner Paul Wiseman, a candidate for the first Test starting on Wednesday at the R. Premadasa Stadium got injured. Wiseman pulled his right calf muscle in the first session and did not take the field. His progress is being closely monitored by the team physio Mark Harrison.
Priest who took a wicket with his first delivery in Sri Lanka by getting through the defences of Dulip Samaraweera for 14, ended the day with figures of 3 for 76.
The Deputy Minister of Labour and Matale District MP Janaka Tennekoon was the chief guest on the opening day of the 3 day cricket match between the touring New Zealand team and the Sri Lanka Board President's XI which began at the Asgiriya Stadium, yesterday.
Day 2: Horne and Young in century stand
New Zealanders gain valuable batting practice for Wednesday's first Test.
MATTHEW HORNE and Bryan Young shared an opening partnership of 124 runs as New Zealand gained valuable batting practice ahead of Wednesday's first cricket Test against Sri Lanka in their 3-day game against a Board President's XI played at the Asgiriya Stadium here yesterday.
Horne made 92 and Young, a sedate 32 in 211 minutes to enable New Zealand finish the second day on 211 for 4 wickets in reply to the Board President's XI's total of 300 for 9 declared.
Regular opener Horne made good use of a dropped catch at 49 when he drove a full toss from Malinga Bandara to Mahela Jayawardene at silly mid-off, to hit 13 fours in an innings lasting 186 minutes.
Young fighting for the opener's place with Craig Spearman on this tour, may have done enough to partner Horne in the first Test. He batted with a lot of concentration and application although he reached the boundary only twice.
Spearman's failure may have also weighed against him when he lasted only 39 minutes before driving uppishly to mid-off to be dismissed for 16.
New Zealand also lost the wicket of skipper Stephen Fleming who was ruled caught off bat and pad at short leg by Dulip Samaraweera for 11.
New Zealand's weakness against leg-spin was exposed when 18-year-old schoolboy Malinga Bandara captured 3 of the four wickets to fall for 68 runs. He began a mini collapse by having Young caught on the drive at slip off the first ball of a new spell after tea, and then went on to add the wickets of Spearman and Fleming.
Following the century opening stand, New Zealand lost four wickets for 37 runs before Craig McMillan (16) and Adam Parore (30) checked the slide with an unfinished fifth wicket partnership of 50.
The national selectors' hope of finding an opening bowler to partner Pramodya Wickremasinghe proved futile when the two young hopefuls Suresh Perera and Indika Gallage failed to make any impression on the New Zealand batsmen.
The Board President's XI batted for nearly an hour adding 32 runs before closing their first innings at 300 for nine.
Day 3: Two new pacies fail to impress, match ends in draw
Sri Lanka cricket selectors were left with the task of continuing their futile search for a new ball partner for Pramodya Wickremasinghe when the two young hopefuls in action in the three-day game played at the Asgiriya Stadium here failed to deliver the goods.
The match ended in a draw with New Zealand scoring 344 for 9 declared in reply to the Board President's XI's 300 for 9 declared. The board XI made 82 for one in their second innings before the game was terminated at the final drinks break with nothing to play for.
The national selectors (with the exception of the chairman Duleep Mendis who was present on the first day) were present yesterday along with Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga, to witness the performances of Suresh Perera and Indika Gallage, the two fast bowlers who had returned after training at the MRF pace Foundation in Madras recently.
However they had to return to Colombo disappointed, as none of them impressed with the second new ball that was available at the time. There was nothing outstanding about their bowling, although Perera went flat out and was rewarded with the wickets of Adam Parore for 43 and Dion Nash for five. Parore miscued a pull and was caught by the wicket-keeper running to his left to short fine leg, while Nash pushing tentatively forward was trapped in front of the wicket.
Perera ended with figures of 2 for 53 off 19 overs, and of the four fast bowlers the selectors put on display against the tourists he looked the most impressive.
The bowling honours however was taken by Mahela Jayawardene, who picked up four wickets for 29 runs with his part-time medium-paced off-breaks. He seems a certainty for the Test having contributed a stylish 67 in the first innings.
Craig McMillan and Adam Parore carried their fifth wicket partnership worth 89 runs before Perera broke through, by dismissing the latter.
McMillan became the first of Jayewardene's three victims in a spell of three overs for the day when he pushed the ball straight into Dulip Samaraweera's hands at forward short-leg. He made 71 in 174 minutes with nine fours.
Chris Harris also gained some useful batting, scoring 42 in 115 minutes. But the good news for the New Zealand was that off-spinner Paul Wiseman was fit enough to bowl again. Wiseman did not bowl in the first innings after pulling a calf muscle. But yesterday sent down 12 overs without showing signs of discomfort and also picked up a wicket.
New Zealand meet Sri Lanka in the first Test starting at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Wednesday.
The Kandy DCA who conducted the match presented three awards for individual performances. The best performance for Sri Lanka and for the Match was won by Jayewardene and the best performance for New Zealand went to Matt Horne.