Taylor, Styris star in hard-earned win for New Zealanders
New Zealanders 220 for 7 (Taylor 67, Styris 57) beat Sri Lanka Board President's XI 219 for 9 (Perera 62*, Tuffey 2-34, McKay 2-38) by three wickets
New Zealanders endured poor passages of play in the latter stages of either innings, but did enough to seal victory against Sri Lanka Board President's XI in their first match on tour. The win was easier than suggested by the eventual three-wicket margin, as Ross Taylor and Scott Styris struck fluent fifties before the visitors crossed the line with 72 balls to spare.
BP XI elected to bat first, but did not account for their opponents' inspired fast-bowling pack. Things began to go awry in the third over when Daryl Tuffey breached Mahela Udawatte's defence with nine runs on the board. Dinesh Chandimal was run out for two in the next over, exposing the middle order. They did not fare too well as three wickets fell for the addition of just one run: Lahiru Thirimanne edged Tuffey behind, while Chamara Silva and Thilina Kandamby did likewise against Tim Southee and Jacob Oram respectively. The score read 34 for 5 in 12 overs and BP XI desperately needed a repair job.
Kosala Kulasekara put his head down in the company of Milinda Siriwardana and they steadied the ship, adding 29 in 10.4 overs before Clint McKay got into the flow of things, getting the former to give Gareth Hopkins his fourth catch behind the wickets. With both teams having twelve players to choose from, BP XI were batting fairly deep and it worked in their favour. Farveez Maharoof kept Siriwardana company for a 64-run stand for the seventh wicket, off 93 balls. Just when they looked set to step up, New Zealanders managed to dismiss both batsmen before they could reach fifties.
That the hosts had something to bowl at was down to the effort of Thisara Perera who stunned the bowlers with an impressive assault. Southee suffered the most damage, going for 64 while the rest of his colleagues finished with respectable figures. Perera smashed eight fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 39-ball 62, as the last 7.5 overs went for 81 runs. Seekkuge Prasanna gave him good support, lashing a six and two fours in his 18 as BP XI finished with 219.
New Zealanders' chase faced an early setback when Nuwan Pradeep got BJ Watling to nick one behind for four. However, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor made light of his fall, adding 65 at better than a-run-a-ball. Guptill struck three fours in his 33-ball 26 before Prasanna struck him in front of the stumps. Thereafter Scott Styris laced into the bowling in an aggressive partnership with Taylor to put the result beyond doubt.
Taylor played some pleasing shots, picking seven fours and a six before Kandamby sent him back after a partnership of 95 in 14.1 overs. Styris smashed two sixes and five fours, racing to 57 off 45 balls before he too fell to Kandamby's wiles in the 30th over. New Zealanders had a few nervous moments, losing Grant Elliott and Hopkins, with 23 runs still to get. Oram however held one end up while Tuffey lashed four fours to ensure there was no upset.