After a damp pitch had seen the match start time put back four hours until the afternoon, nobody was quite sure how the wicket at the Colts Cricket Club in Colombo was going to play. However, Richard Levi (24) and Faf du Plessis (24) would have eased the batter’s worries, with an excellent opening stand.
Three quick wickets, which saw South Africa reduced from 47-0 to 61-3, would have caused some concern, until skipper AB de Villiers and JP Duminy showed great form in a partnership of 62 in the space of seven overs. de Villiers in particular hit the ball particularly crisply in his 54, reaching his half century from just 28 balls, while Duminy scored in excess of a run a ball for his 30.
Supported by some powerful late order hitting, with Farhaan Behardien striking 24 from 12 balls and Albie Morkel making 15 not out from just four deliveries, 186-6 was always going to be an imposing total.With cloud cover building in humid conditions, New Zealand began its reply in typically belligerent fashion, but James Franklin, Martin Guptill and Brendan McCullum all fell with less than 50 on the board.
Ross Taylor and Rob Nicol then combined for a brilliant partnership of 94, made in just over 10 overs, with the New Zealand skipper in particularly impressive form, smashing seven sixes in his 42-ball innings of 75.
However, once he fell the asking rate always looked like a tough target, with Nicol (37) struggling to improve his strike-rate once Taylor had fallen, particularly against a world-class South Africa bowling attack. Dale Steyn (4-25) in particular bowled a brilliant final spell which restricted New Zealand to 177-8.
New Zealand travel to Kandy on Tuesday morning, ahead of its opening match against Bangladesh on Friday, while South Africa will continue its preparations in Colombo.