Sri Lanka vs New Zealand 1st Test: If it was not for the deflection off Ben Stokes’ bat, the Kiwis would have been crowned the World Champions. A famous chapter would have etched in New Zealand’s cricket history. Kane Williamson would have won New Zealand’s highest honour. But none of this happened. England lifted the World title & rumours had it that Ben Stokes was to be knighted. The last part isn’t true. Well, all that being said, the show must go on & it will. New Zealand travel to the Lankan Islands for a 2-match test series & 3 T20I games. The ICC World Test Championship has begun & both teams will have plenty to play for.
KIWIS IN THE SUB-CONTINENT
The Kiwis have an appalling record in the sub-continent. They’ve played 76 matches in Asia & have managed to win only 11. The numbers, however, are significantly better in Sri Lanka. The Kiwis have won 4 & lost 6. The last time they were here, Ross Taylor was New Zealand’s skipper & the blackcaps drew parity in a two-match series.
LANKA STILL UNDER TRANSITION
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have been on the decline ever since Kumar Sangakkara retired. At least in conditions away from home. Against England last year, the Lankans were battered in their own backyard. A 3-0 series defeat meant they had plenty to work on & the think tank had plenty to ponder about. This year, the Lankans have played 4 tests, all away from home. They couldn’t go past the Aussies, but against the Proteas, they managed a 2-0 win.
Sri Lanka walks into this series on the back of a comprehensive ODI series whitewash over the Bangla boys but the Kiwis are a different adversary altogether. Yes, they beat Australia at home & took the Proteas down, but that was with their now retired tweaker Ranaga Herath. Dilruwan Perera is carrying an injury & won’t be a part of the team. Can they contain the likes of Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor & Tom Latham? The chances seem pretty supple but at home, the Lankans just can’t be counted out.
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Where: Galle International Stadium, Sri Lanka
When: 14th August 2019, Wednesday
Kick-Off: 10:00 am, IST
The Lankans have played 32 test matches at Galle & have won 18. They’ve lost 8 & 6 of them were drawn games. The hosted the English men in November 2018 & were beaten heavily. A 211-run defeat was followed by 2 more defeats. The teams batting first on this strip have won 19 & lost 7. Since 2010, 15 off the 17 games have yielded results & the run-rate has gone up to 3.32. The 1st innings average at Galle is 40 & it gradually goes down to 22.34 in the 4th. The skipper who wins the toss would certainly want to bat first.
LAST 5 MATCHES
SRI LANKA: W W L D L (the leftmost is the most recent)
NEW ZEALAND: W W W D W
TEAN NEWS & EXPECTED PLAYING XI
Sri Lanka will have the experienced duo of Dinesh Chandimal & Angelo Matthews back who missed the South African series due to poor form & an injury respectively. 22-year-old, left-arm orthodox, Lasith Embuldeniya retains his spot while Lakshan Sandakan & Suranga Lakmal will lead the pace attack
Dimuth Karunaratne(c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal(wk), Angelo Matthews, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Lasith Embuldeniya, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal.
New Zealand are likely to play three frontline spinners. Mitchell Santner, Ajaz Patel & Will Somerville.
Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling(wk), Mitchell Santner, Ajaz Patel, Will Somerville, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR, SRI LANKA vs NEW ZEALAND 1st TEST
Kane Williamson won the player of the tournament in the recently concluded World Cup & he’ll be the player to keep a keen eye on, on any conditions. Against Sri Lanka, Kane averages 80.66 but in Sri Lanka, the master batsman has played only 2 tests & averages only 40.75. Since he’s taken on the captaincy, his from has transcended to a whole new level. He’s led New Zealand in 24 test matches & averages a high 63.69. Against spin, Kane averages 49.86 & in conditions where immaculate technique is needed to counter spin, he’ll the player to watch out for.
Kusal Mendis was in fine touch against the Kiwis when the Lankans had visited the island country. Against the Kiwis, Mendis averages 50.85 & will hold key to Sri Lanka’s consolidation in the middle. Mendis hasn’t lived upto his true potential in the recent years but the finesse & the touch has always been there. Sri Lanka have a sturdy middle-order & the Kiwis have to bowl dextrously to get the better of them. Watch out for this pocket-sized dynamite.
FANTASY CRICKET TEAM FOR SRI LANKA vs NEW ZEALAND 1st TEST
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