New Zealand A suffered a heart-breaking loss to South Africa A in a dress rehearsal of Saturday's tri-series final in Colombo overnight.
The New Zealanders were in front for most of the match, but South Africa managed to snatch victory from the penultimate delivery of the game with one wicket remaining to continue their unbeaten run in the tournament.
After NZ A won the toss and elected to bat, they recovered well after losing the two early wickets of and Jamie How. The bulk of the scoring came from Mathew Sinclair (64), Peter Fulton (43) and James Marshall (56 not out).
The New Zealanders were on target for a score in excess of 250, but only managed 59 runs in the last 10 overs to finish at 239 for eight.
The New Zealand bowlers began their defence of a respectable total well, picking up regular wickets. The slow pace of Chris Harris and Jeetan Patel again dominated. Harris was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with three for 26 off his 10 overs.
When South Africa reached seven for 122 in the 32nd over, the New Zealanders should have wrapped up the match. But some loose bowling by the fast bowlers and some hard hitting by the South African lower order kept the game alive.
Needing 19 runs from two overs and then nine off the 50th with the last pair at the crease, the South Africans hit the winning runs with a single ball remaining.
Despite the disappointing loss, the closeness of the match bodes well for an exciting final at Colombo on Saturday.