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Sri Lanka vs New Zealand, 1st Test, Preview – Karunaratne and co. look to repeat the South Africa heroics

Both these teams will have some tough choices to make as far as their Playing XIs are concerned.

Sri Lanka vs New Zealand
Sri Lanka vs New Zealand. (Photo Source: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

The last time they played Test cricket, Sri Lanka spirited history. They defeated South Africa in their home by winning both the games of the two-match series. Under the able leadership of Dimuth Karunaratne, the team played some extraordinary and inspirational cricket. Now, after a brief hiatus, they will be back playing the longest format of the game as they take on New Zealand at home.

When the Kiwis hosted Bangladesh for a Test series at home earlier this year, they comfortably won the first two games. However, that series had to end of a painful note due to the terrorist attacks. Kane Williamson and his men came very close to lifting the World Cup 2019 this year.

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However, they fell marginally short and will want to make up for that grief by playing some high-quality cricket. They were the ones who dominated Sri Lanka last year in the two-match series and will hope for a similar kind of performance yet again. But, they’ll have to be wary of the threat from the opposition given that they are playing away from home and keeping Sri Lanka’s heroics in South Africa in mind.

Playing Combinations

Sri Lanka

Dinesh Chandimal might not find a place in the eleven for the first Test. Moreover, Sri Lanka is also likely to leave out Oshada Fernando in order to fit Angelo Mathews into the eleven. Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne will open the innings while Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis will bat in the middle order along with Niroshan Dickwella. Dhananjaya de Silva is likely to be the other all-rounder in the team while Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan will be the spinners. Suranga Lakmal and Vishwa Fernando will handle the pace duties.

Predicted XI: Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando.

New Zealand

For New Zealand, Jeet Raval will open the innings along with Tom Latham. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will shoulder a majority of the burden of the middle order. The Kiwis will have to pick one player between Colin de Grandhomme and Neil Wagner depending upon the conditions. While Ajaz Patel will be one of the spinners, they will have to pick between Todd Astle and William Somerville for the other spinner in the side. Trent Boult and Tim Southee are highly likely to make it into the eleven.

Predicted XI: Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme/Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult, Todd Astle/William Somerville.

Focus will be on

Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka)

Angelo Mathews, who last played against this opposition last year, was ignored for the South Africa series. The all-rounder has been called back into the squad for the first Test. He hasn’t been in great touch with the bat and has mostly struggled in the World Cup 2019. Yet, he is likely to make it into the eleven and Sri Lanka will be having a lot of expectations on him in this Test match.

Tom Latham (New Zealand)

Tom Latham is another player whom a lot of eyes will be watching keenly. The left-hander, batting in the middle order in the World Cup 2019, struggled against the moving ball. He has found it hard to accumulate runs and there were some technical flaws that were exposed. However, Latham is good in red-ball cricket and New Zealand will want him to come out with flying colours. It will be interesting to see how he deals with spin bowling.

Head to head

Matches played – 34 | Sri Lanka won – 8 | New Zealand won – 15 | Draw – 11

Stat Attack

Kane Williamson vs SL in Tests:

15 inns
968 runs
242* best
80.66 average
3 centuries
5 fifties

Broadcast Details

TV – Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD

Online – SonyLiv

Match Timings – 10:00 AM IST and local

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