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Patel, Oram Revive Flagging Innings

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Colombo, Aug 13 NZPA - Jacob Oram's fortitude and a strengthening of Jeetan Patel's claim to genuine allrounder status glossed over another mixed performance by New Zealand's batsmen in their dress rehearsal for next week's first cricket test against Sri Lanka.

Patel emerged as an unlikely though necessary hero as New Zealand yesterday recovered from the concession of five wickets for 87 runs to compile 283 for eight at stumps on day one of their three-day match against a Sri Lanka Development XI at the Nondescripts Cricket Club.

New Zealand has frequently had to call on a specialist spinner to coordinate a lower order rescue mission but unusually it was Patel -- not Daniel Vettori -- who helped ensure the tourists' innings continues later today (4.30pmNZT).

Patel will resume his face-saving innings on 68 alongside Iain O'Brien (9) and bullishly predicted another hundred runs could be added to what is only a par score after New Zealand's opted to bat first on a pitch that proved trickier than it originally appeared.

Regardless of whether Patel's optimistic forecast eventuates, Vettori's understudy and occasional foil at least proved his maiden first class century on debut for English county Warwickshire this season might not be an aberration.

Patel figured in two key stands, supportive in one and dominant in the other, after New Zealand struggled to counter a bowling attack spearheaded by legspinner Seekuge Prasanna.

After New Zealand had deteriorated from 96 for two to 180 for seven in the middle session, there was a real prospect Patel might be bowling before the close.

However, he and Oram, who compiled a timely 42 from 95 deliveries, added 61 for the eighth wicket; Patel then took charge with O'Brien to finish the day with a half dozen boundaries and a soaring six.

New Zealand ultimately piled on 103 in the final session for the loss of Oram, who couldn't help clouting a half tracker from Prasanna to deep mid wicket.

"It was good to get out and bat with Jake (Oram) for a while," Patel said.

"We had to bat for a period of time and to lose only one wicket in a couple of hours was pleasing. We battled hard, and that's what we'll need to do in the test matches."

On yesterday's evidence New Zealand's specialist batsmen will have to display the same qualities in Galle from Tuesday after the majority failed to thrive against a solid rather than unspectacular attack that secured leg before wicket decisions with worrying regularity.

The entire top order fell to that mode of dismissal and although a high number of upheld appeals might indicate partisan officiating only Vettori could feel slightly aggrieved.

Opening bowlers Dhamika Prasad and Tharanga Lakshitha removed Tim McIntosh (0) and Daniel Flynn (5) before Prasanna worked through 28 overs of accurate legspin to end with three for 66.

Prasanna did not extract prodigious turn but the soldier's control and a low, slow wicket proved difficult to combat.

"He didn't get a lot of turn it just skidded on," explained Ross Taylor, who top scored with a smooth 75.

Taylor admitted the batsmen had been expecting more bounce and were susceptible when the ball hurried on to them.

He also acknowledged more application was required against Sri Lanka's front line spinners in Galle.

"If we bat first we need at least 450 to put pressure on them. Once again he lost wickets in clumps. Losing more than three in a session will really put us on the back foot."

Meanwhile, Jesse Ryder's health will be monitored today after a stomach bug forced him to return to the team hotel before he was scheduled to bat.

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