Deadline: August 14, 2019 at 10 AM IST
Venue: Galle International Stadium, Galle
Moeen Ali and Jack Leach spun a web around the Sri Lankan batsmen the last time a Test was played at the Galle International Stadium. In the match before that, Dilruwan Perera had trapped the South Africans in spin. To cut a long story short, expect spinners to take centre stage.
The last time New Zealand played Tests in the subcontinent, they beat Pakistan in the UAE – a territory most teams fail to conquer. The last time Sri Lanka played Tests, they beat South Africa in South Africa – a territory no Asian team had ever conquered.
If you think New Zealand can fall prey to spinners, revise their batting line-up. If you think Sri Lanka will succumb to pressure, revise their recent performances. Although Sri Lanka have the advantage of playing at home, they will be wary of New Zealand’s resilience. Expect high-quality cricket.
Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews are back, further bolstering Sri Lanka’s batting.
Probable XI for Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Oshada, Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Perera (wk), Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando, Lasith Embuldeniya, Akila Dananjaya
Depending on the nature of pitch, New Zealand will have to pick either Colin de Grandhomme or Mitchell Santner.
Probable XI for New Zealand: Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme/Mitchell Santner, BJ Watling (wk), Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Trent Boult
NOTE: Pick your fantasy cricket team wisely.
We have opted for a fantasy team on the basis of players’ impact, recent performances, and credit points.
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My 11: Kusal Perera (wk), Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson (c), Henry Nicholls, Dimuth Karunaratne (vc), Kusal Mendis, Colin de Grandhomme, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Lasith Embuldeniya, Akila Dananjaya
Players to watch out for
Both Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have a double-hundred to their names in 2019. Given they are good players of spin, they will play a key role in holding the fort.
Williamson is at the second spot – only behind Virat Kohli – in the ICC Test Rankings for batsmen, while Henry Nicholls is the fifth position. In 25 Tests, Nicholls has already scored 5 hundreds and 9 fifties.
Dimuth Karunaratne averages 48 at the Galle International Stadium, having scored 2 hundreds and 4 fifties in 10 matches.
Two New Zealand bowlers – Neil Wagner and Trent Boult – feature in the top 10 list of ICC Rankings. To further glorify Wagner, he took 16 wickets in his last 2 matches.
Ajaz Patel took a stunning five-wicket haul on the tour match. Sri Lanka will have to be mindful of his wily left-arm spin.
Kusal Perera has been in a stunning form since his spectacular 153 in South Africa. He dominated in the 2019 World Cup and was Sri Lanka’s highest wicket-taker in the recently concluded ODI series against Bangladesh.