posted on 2019-08-13 11:49:37
posted by Michael Harrison
Image courtesy: Hindustan Times
Sri Lanka: D Karunaratne, L Thirimanne, O Fernando, K Mendis, A Mathews, D de Silva, K Perera, A Dananjaya, L Embuldeniya, S Lakmal, V Fernando
New Zealand: J Raval, T Latham, K Williamson, R Taylor, H Nicholls, B Watling, C de Grandhomme, N Wagner, W Somerville, A Patel, T Boult
The pivotal aspect of any sub-continental series will be how the visiting batsmen adapt to the low and slow surfaces that will have ample turn.
Fresh off a historic series win in South Africa, Sri Lanka will hope to build on their Test match form when they host the in-form New Zealand for a two-match series that starts on August 14. It won't be easy for the hosts as the Kiwis have won their last five Test series, including a famous victory in the UAE against Pakistan. Promises to be a cracking series.
Being the first Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa has definitely boosted the morale of the Lankans. However, it's at home that they need to create momentum and recreate the fortress that it was. With the return of Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews, the batting looks healthier although both may not feature in the playing XI.
Akila Dananjaya should be the first choice spinner and in all likelihood, Lasith Embuldeniya should be the other tweaker with Dhananjaya de Silva being the other option. Sri Lanka may be tempted to go in with another spinner, thereby making it a lone seamer attack but that will depend on the track on match day.
The Kiwis have generally done better than other non-Asian sides when it comes to handling spinning conditions. Their unassuming nature helps to take spotlight away from them and their relentless dedication allows them to reap rewards. That's how they emerged victorious in the UAE and the gameplan should be quite same here in Sri Lanka as well.
Most of the New Zealand players pick themselves but the think tank have two headaches. One, regarding the two spinners and two, regarding whom to bench among the pacers and it could probably be Tim Southee considering that he relies a lot on movement. With Colin de Grandhomme available, it should be Neil Wagner to partner Trent Boult.
Odds and predictions
Usually in such series, it's the home side who starts as favorites, at least for the opening game. However, the Kiwis have shown that they have the strength to win in these conditions. It's really close to call. For this game, I'm going in with a 52-48 in favor of Sri Lanka, purely due to home advantage but it's a very small margin.