Limp batting leads to New Zealanders' defeat
Sri Lanka A 234 (Thirimanne 51, Pushpakumara 42, Tuffey 5-53) beat New Zealanders 173 (Oram 39, Pushpakumara 3-36) by 61 runs
A Sri Lanka A side fielding eight players with international experience outclassed the New Zealanders in a low-scoring practice game on a lazy Sunday in front of a handful of spectators at the SSC. The New Zealanders went in without Daniel Vettori, Ross Taylor and Shane Bond and though it was the bowling that should have been weakened by the absentees, it was up to the mark. A limp batting performance, however, led to a 61-run defeat.
The day began well as Daryl Tuffey made his presence felt in his first and last opportunity on tour, taking five wickets to limit the target to 235. However, a poor start to the chase and a shaky middle order put too much pressure on the battling Brendon McCullum, who was unlucky to be given out lbw to Sri Lanka's star performer, the allrounder Muthumudalige Pushpakumara.
Thilina Kandamby decided to bat in good conditions, but Sanath Jayasuriya followed two poor Twenty20s with 2, caught behind off a short delivery. Tuffey bowled a rhythmic opening spell and, aided by some loose shots and athletic fielding, helped reduce Sri Lanka to 14 for 3. Mahela Udawatte's poor form continued against the tourists, after Friday's first-ball duck at the Premadasa, when McCullum pouched a good catch at extra cover.
Tuffey provided the initial problems in a smart spell of 2 for 14 from five overs, after which Kandamby and Lahiru Thirimanne picked easy runs from Brendon Diamanti, Jeetan Patel and Neil Broom. Through a mixture of swings and inside edges, crisp flicks across the line and drives down the ground, the pair added 56 to settle the nerves. Kandamby danced down to Patel and effortlessly lofted six over mid-off, but trying to repeat the shot he chipped straight to short extra cover for 26.
Tuffey continued his good game when he returned in the 34th over, immediately getting Thirimanne to give a catch to midwicket for 51. In the 36th over he drew another loose shot, getting the ball to angle sharply, and had Gihan Rupasinghe out for a brisk 34. An impromptu jig followed.
Dinesh Chandimal and Pushpakumara bailed Sri Lanka out and ensured Kandamby had at least a competitive total to play with. Chandimal, regarded as a future international, used his feet well and was also quick between the wickets, keeping the New Zealand fielders on their toes.
Pushpakumara's cameo, both chancy and delightful, enabled Sri Lanka to reach 234 after walking in at a nervy 137 for 6, with 14 overs to go. A crafty late dab off Patel, exposing all the stumps and then steering past short third man, was followed by another delicate deflection off Diamanti's medium-pace. When Tuffey returned and pitched too wide, Pushpakumara flayed four over gully and sliced wide of the wicketkeeper.
They put on 64, at 7.80 an over, before both fell in the 45th over: Chandimal for a 30-ball 29 and Pushpakumara for 42 from 30 balls. After taking 4 for 28 from eight, Tuffey's figures were spoiled by Nuwan Zoysa, who clubbed 26 from just 11 balls, but he finished the innings in 47.5 overs. Jesse Ryder took 2 for 18.
The New Zealanders had a bad start; Dilhara Fernando and Zoyza, picked up a wicket each as the tourists slipped to 49 for 3 in 9.3 overs. McCullum was left to try and hold the innings together after Broom and Gareth Hopkins departed in successive overs from Pushpakumara, who didn't get much turn but bowled a very tidy line. McCullum was playing solidly, intent on getting himself in until he was adjudged lbw to Pushpakumara. It was a harsh call as the ball was missing leg stump by a week. McCullum fumed as he walked off, and with that went the New Zealanders' chances.
Diamanti took 35 balls to score 18 and the asking rate had neared seven-and-a-half by the time he was yorked by Fernando. Jacob Oram went on to score 39 from 56 balls after the competitive element had long since gone. Fernando took him out to finish with 3 for 40.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo