Daijiworld Media Network
Galle, Nov 17 : It is the time for whites to take over from the coloured clothing. Sri Lanka and New Zealand are up against each other in the first of the two Test matches. Galle, the usual series opener for Sri Lanka will host the first Test.
Let me start with some team news. Sri lanka will miss Tillakaratne Dilshan, who is yet to recover from the back injury he sustained during the ODI series. That will mean that Dimuth Karunaratne, the left handed batsman will make his Test debut. New Zealand will welcome back Martin Guptill who was rested for the ODI and T20 leg of the tour.
New Zealand have won the toss and elected to bat
Ross Taylor has said that his team will look to be positive as they seek to surprise the hosts. All eyes will be on the Galle pitch. It was termed unsatisfactory by the ICC pitch inspection committee after Sri Lanka prepared a spin friendly surface against Australia. Will be see a better surface? Toss and team updates in a short while.
Two changes for Sri lanka. Dimuth Karunaratne is in as expected, Shaminda Eranga has been preferred ahead of Chanaka Walegedera.
New Zealand (Playing XI): Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor(c), Kruger van Wyk(w), James Franklin, Daniel Flynn, Jeetan Patel, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult
Sri Lanka (Playing XI): Tharanga Paranavitana, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene(c), Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene(w), Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Suraj Randiv, Shaminda Eranga
Unbeaten Sri Lanka will look to extend their winning run against New Zealand in the two Test series starting at Galle. Sri Lanka come into this game having won the ODI series 3-0, with two matches being washed out. All the ODIs were rain-affected affairs and the hosts will be hoping for lesser rain interruptions during the Test series.
The hosts will be hoping to make light of Tillakaratne Dilshan's absence when they take on New Zealand at Galle. The opener was ruled out of the match after failing to recover from a back injury which he picked up during the preceding ODI series. While Dilshan's unavailability is a big blow for the Sri Lanka, they do have quality batsmen to make up for his absence. Tharanga Paranavitana has performed well for his country as a opener and is likely to have uncapped Dimuth Karunaratne as his partner for this game. With the ever reliable Kumar Sangakkara at number three and classy Mahela Jayawaedene at four, Sri Lanka have the most experienced players occupying two important positions. Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardene are also talented batsmen who have the ability to score big runs. Overall, Sri Lanka has a balanced batting unit which has been performing well at home for a while now and skipper Jayawardene will be hoping that it continues.
Sri Lanka may not have the same kind of quality in the bowling attack that it used to have when Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan were playing Test cricket. But they do have capable seamers in Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedara and Shaminda Eranga while Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv have been performing well as spinners. While the Lankan bowlers are expected to get the better of the opposition in home conditions but Jayawardene will be hoping that they do not take things for granted and be disciplined in their approach.
Despite losing the ODI series, the Kiwis did come up with some good shows and they will be hoping that it reflects in their performance in the opening Test. Martin Guptill, who was rested for the ODIs, is back to boost the side. He along with Brendon McCullum are key players at the top of the order and New Zealand will be banking on them to deliver good starts. Kane Williamson may not average all that well at the number three position. But there his no doubting his quality as a batsman and he along with Ross Taylor, have crucial roles to play. New Zealand have a talented batsman in Daniel Flynn who cimes in at 5 while they are likely to go in with all-rounder James Franklin at 6 followed by wicket-keeper Kruger van Wyk. The lower middle-order is slightly inexperienced but skipper Taylor will be hoping that they as well as the rest of the batters come up with a resolute performance against the Lankan bowlers.
New Zealand's seam bowling department has no shortage of talent with the likes of Doug Bracewell and Tim Southee. Chris Martin is an experienced campaigner, and having played earlier in Sri Lanka, he will have his bit to contribute if he he picked in the eleven. Trent Boult is the other choice that Taylor can opt for and he too has shown how effective he can be with the ball. New Zealand spin bowling attack is a slightly weak one in the absence of Daniel Vettori but Jeetan Patel has the ability to perform well, as he showed during the Test series against India earlier this year while New Zealand can also opt for a newbie leg-break bowler Todd Astle. While the conditions will be to the liking of the hosts, Taylor will be hoping for the Kiwi bowlers to gear up for it and deliver a solid performance.
The wicket will help spin bowlers only on the last two days and I hope it will be a good track for fast bowlers too: Mahela Jayawardene
We've got to focus on ourselves and score big totals and take 20 wickets. We'll more than likely go in with three quicks and one spinner: Ross Taylor