Deadline: August 22, 2019 at 10 AM IST
Venue: P Sara Oval, Colombo
Of the 20 wickets Sri Lanka took in the first Test, 13 belonged to the spinners. The series is being played at home after all. Why not dish out a pitch that suits their strength? Expect nothing less in the second Test. The ball will turn square.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecasted throughout this week in Colombo.
New Zealand may have been outplayed, but they know how to stage a comeback. In December last year, they beat Pakistan at UAE in the third Test despite conceding a first-innings lead, and claimed the series 1-2. The joke will be on the hosts if they rule out New Zealand.
Cricket is a funny game. New Zealand might as well give Sri Lanka the taste of their own medicine. The turning track also had Sri Lanka in trouble. New Zealand’s spin duo, Ajaz Patel and William Somerville, took 10 wickets between them.
To add more sizzle to the drama, New Zealand have never lost a Test at the P Sara Oval. They drew one in 2003 and won the other by a massive margin of 167 runs in 2012, thanks to Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor’s hundreds.
If anything, the match prediction isn’t easy to make. After a long time, Sri Lanka look confident in their approach, for the captain himself has been leading from the front, accumulating heaps of runs at the top and laying a solid foundation. More importantly, his bowling unit has been winning important sessions for him.
Sri Lanka need not to tinker with the winning combination.
Probable XI for Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara
New Zealand dropped Neil Wagner, No. 6 in ICC Test Rankings for bowlers, at the expense of Tim Southee who managed only a wicket at Galle.
Probable XI for New Zealand: Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Mitchell Santner, Neil Wagner, William Somerville, Trent Boult, Ajaz Patel
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My 11: BJ Watling/Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Ross Taylor (vc), Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Lasith Embuldeniya, Akila Dananjaya, William Somerville, Ajaz Patel
Had it not been for Ross Taylor’s 86 in the first innings, New Zealand would have stared further down the barrel. BJ Watling then put up a brave performance in the second innings, keeping the innings together with a fine knock of 77 runs. On a pitch that saw Kane Williamson score 0 and 4, Taylor and Watling batted out of their skins to keep New Zealand in the race.
Dimuth Karunaratne’s hundred was the highlight of the match, making a mockery of the 268-run chase on a turning track. In all, Sri Lanka had as many as four half-centurions in Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, and Lahiru Thirimanne.
While Akila Dananjaya and Ajaz Patel took five-fors, Suranga Lakmal and Lasith Embuldeniya scalped four-fors. Lakmal, especially, was spectacular, given the fact that the track had very little for the pacers to offer.