Ajaz takes five after Gunathilaka-Samarawickrama push their claims

Ajaz Patel celebrates a wicket with Kane Williamson
Sri Lanka Board President's XI v New Zealanders, 1st Day August 08, 2019

Sri Lanka Board President's XI 323 for 6 (Gunathilaka 98, Samarawickrama 80, Priyanjan 56*, Ajaz Patel 5-41) v New Zealanders

New Zealand left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel claimed 5 for 41, as his fast-bowling teammates toiled, of the first day of the tour match in Katunayake. Making a claim for places in the Sri Lanka Test squad, meanwhile, was opener Danushka Gunathilaka, who top-scored for the Sri Lanka Cricket Board President's XI, with 98 off 97 balls, putting on 154 in 26 overs alongside Sadeera Samarawickrama, who hit 80 off 90.

Sri Lankan Test tracks have become increasingly loaded in favour of spinners in the past few years, with seamers at times appearing largely superfluous. New Zealand got a taste of what may come at Galle next week, as Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner all went wicketless, having bowled nine overs apiece. Aside from Ajaz, offspinner Will Somerville was the only New Zealand bowler to make a breakthrough, finishing with an analysis of 1 for 70 from his 13.5 overs.

Legspinner Todd Astle and left-arm spinning allrounder Mitchell Santner bowled six overs apiece and did not take a wicket, as the Board XI racked up 323 for 6 in the day. Thanks largely to the breakneck opening stand between Gunathilaka and Samarawickrama, the Board XI's run rate was 4.9 - with only Santner, among New Zealand's bowlers, going at less than four an over.

Late in the day, Ashan Priyanjan also struck an unbeaten half century. He, like Samarawickrama, is seemingly not in contention for a Test squad place, having been left out of the preliminary squad.

The teams eventually went off for bad light after 65.5 overs. Earlier in the day, play had been delayed for two hours on account of a wet outfield.

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