Paarl - The three-day match between the South African Invitation XI and the touring New Zealanders in Paarl ended in a predictable draw on Sunday.
According to the supersport.com website, the New Zealanders had reached 117 for two in their second innings, a lead of 69, at tea. As the players walked off, the captains agreed that no result was possible.
The New Zealand team gathered some valuable match practice going into Wednesday's first Test at Newlands, while some of the players in the Invitation XI, not one of whom is a regular in their franchise teams, staked a claim for higher recognition.
The Invitation team resumed their first innings on 274 on Sunday morning, still 37 behind with four wickets in hand. Only one wicket fell in the morning session, Shaun Liebisch lifting a drive against Chris Martin to cover, and the morning belonged to the Boland pair of Keegan Petersen and Petrus Jeftha.
Petersen looked silky smooth in going to his fifty off the fifth ball of the day, but became becalmed after the loss of Liebisch. He will need to make the best out of such dry patches, and cannot afford to play out 19 successive dot balls, as he did at one stage, at senior level. He nevertheless finished with an impressive unbeaten 76 off 143 balls with ten fours and a six.
Jeftha kept the scoreboard ticking over with a number of aggressive shots, hitting six fours and three sixes off 85 balls, going into lunch on 54. At that stage the total of 359 gave the Invitation team a lead of 48, and Piet van Biljon decided that was enough.
Brendon McCullum came out to open with Martin Guptill, and the pair went along at a good clip. Guptill in particular played a number of powerful shots, and the pair had put on 63 in 11 overs when left-arm spinner Siya Simetu was introduced into the attack.
McCullum went back to his second ball and edged it to slip, where Uwe Birkenstock picked up a sharp chance. Dean Brownlie, who had not been given a bat in the first innings, failed. He was undone by a well disguised off-cutter from Jeftha for just six.
Daniel Flynn survived a miscued drive over the covers on 12, but saw things through to tea. Guptill went to his fifty off 65 balls, and was also unbeaten at the break on 68, made off 79 balls with 10 fours and a six.
It was handshakes all round as the players walked off the field, as the match ended in a draw. Such a result was on the cards from day one, due as much to the default result in such matches as to a low and slow pitch which offered the bowlers no inspiration at all.
The New Zealanders will be satisfied with their efforts, but will be unhappy that the batsmen could not dominate a very much second string attack.
While their bowlers had a good workout, and maintained a reasonable line and length, there was very little firepower on display and more will be expected when they come up against the powerhouse South African batting line up.
There will be plenty of thought for Mike Hesson and his coaching staff before the first Test starts on Wednesday at Newlands in Cape Town.