NZ A punish Sri Lanka A in tour finale

1445839133552New Zealand A ended their Sri Lankan counterparts tour of torment in predictable fashion on Monday, crushing the tourists by nine wickets in Rangiora, north of Christchurch.

Comprehensively swept 4-0 on the one-day series, Sri Lanka A managed to draw the first of two first class matches in Christchurch last week but NZ A ended the programme on a dominant note on Mainpower Oval with more than a day to spare.

Trailing by 216 on the first innings after former Black Cap Dean Brownlie and potential international-in-waiting Henry Nicholls crafted centuries to spearhead a consistent top order effort – where only Michael Bracewell (45) failed to raise his bat – Sri Lanka offered only token resistance.

They at least forced NZ A’s openers to pad up again by mustering 234 when an innings defeat looked possible at 211 for eight.

Kithuruwan Vithanage, Sri Lanka’s most reliable batsmen, led the final forlorn rearguard action with a belligerent 84 from 99 balls; opener Minodh Bhanuka made 69 before he became the first of leg spinner Todd Astle’s seven scalps.

An attack that has been under pressure throughout their tour removed Brownlie for a first-ball duck but NZ A only needed two overs to make the 19 required for victory.

Sri Lanka started their finale encouragingly by posting 303 but a 155-run opening stand by Jeet Raval (65) and Brownlie set the tone for NZ A’s 519.

Australian-born Brownlie made 113, an innings eclipsed by Canterbury batsman Nicholls, who thrived on one of his home grounds.

The 23-year-old left-hander continued his impressive form against the tourists with his second ton, a classy 137 studded with 15 boundaries and a six.

Nicholls finished with a strike rate of 90.1 from a 152-ball knock that followed his unbeaten 144 in the opening four-day game at Hagley Oval on October 17.

Overall, Nicholls has made 538 runs at 134.5 in seven innings, statistics that indicate he will be a valuable addition to the Canterbury team after being unavailable for the first two rounds of the Plunket Shield.

Astle will also be welcomed back to provincial duty by Canterbury coach Gary Stead after the leg spinner ended with a match analysis of 11-133 – adding 7-78 to his four-wicket haul in the first innings.

Scoreboard: Sri Lanka A 303 (Asela Gunaratne 79, Kithuruwan Vithanage 62; Todd Astle 4-55) and 234 (Kithuruwan Vithanage 84, Minodh Bhanuka 69; Todd Astle 7-78) lost to New Zealand A 519 (Henry Nicholls 137, Dean Brownlie 113, Jeet Raval 65, Will Young 66, Derek de Boorder 58*) and 20-1 by 9 wkts at Mainpower Oval, Rangiora. (Courtesy