Will New Zealand turn the tide?
by Asher Wilson

Scorecard:Sri Lanka v New Zealand
Event:New Zealand in Sri Lanka 2012/13

DateLine: 25th November 2012


Sri Lanka v New Zealand
2nd Test 2012
Match Preview


Following their embarrassing capitulation at Galle, New Zealand will be looking to earn some pride when they meet hosts Sri Lanka for the final time in the ongoing tour, at the P Sara Oval, Colombo, November 25, 2012.


The Kiwis are certainly experiencing one of their worst cricketing seasons, where they have shown major frailties against all types of spin. A defeat in the upcoming match will ensure that they have lost their last three-away series by an overwhelming 2-0 margins.


After succumbing to the likes of West Indies and India in the last couple of months, few had given them a chance to improve their showings against the Lankans, and so far, they have hardly shown any intentions of changing that pattern.


Even though their progress in the early parts of the tour was halted by rain, their last performance at Galle has again put a question mark on their ability to tackle quality spin. They managed 221 in the first innings, and despite sharing the honours following the conclusion of the opening two days, their third day outing was abysmal, to say the least.


They were routed for a lowly 118, and left the hosts with any easy task to complete victory. The home side duly obliged by cruising to a 10-wicket win. Kiwi's skipper, Taylor identified the need to play attacking cricket as the mantra for success but their obvious weakness against spin was easily picked up by their opponents, with Rangana Herath being their tormentor-in-chief.


In total, 13 wickets fell to spinners, out of which Herath accounted for 11. They will need to show more intent against slow bowlers but that does not entirely mean a counterattacking approach. Having won the all important toss, it was baffling to see them stumble on just the third day of the match.


The top-order must take a leaf out of BJ Watling's book, who opened in the absence of Martin Guptill in the ODI series. Watling illustrated sound technique while facing the new ball and was content to weather the early storm before pressing on.


While their preparations have been hindered due to the amount of rain in the region, there could be little excuses as they have been playing on similar kind of pitches over the past 5 months. They certainly have a mental block to overcome against spin and must do that before being sent home empty handed.


Changes are expected to the Playing XI as they look to earn their first win of the series. James Franklin had a poor outing with both, bat and ball, and could be replaced by a specialist batsman. Rob Nicol looks the likeliest recipient of that spot, given the lack of batting depth in the squad.


The bowling fared well on the Galle track, which offered surprisingly a bit more than usual to the fast bowlers. Tim Southee remained the pick of the bowler and was given able support by Trent Boult. That leaves Doug Bracewell's place up for grabs, and the decision of whether to include a like for like change or bring in uncapped spinner Todd Astle. Chris Martin and Neil Wagner are the pace-bowling option and given the nature of the Colombo track, one reckons that the Kiwis may go with a three-pace option.


The hosts, meanwhile, will be in buoyant mood after their impressive recovery in the game, where at one stage they had been severely pegged back by their opponents. At 50 for 5, the Kiwis held advantage but as often is the case, Mahela Jayawardene came to the teamís rescue.


The skipper's invaluable 91-run hand ensured that his side held ascendency and further managed a slender first innings lead. He was ably supported by his deputy, Angelo Mathews, who again proved his mettle as the rightful heir to the captaincy throne.


However, apart from their heroics, other batsmen failed to make an impact when the chips were down, and the management will be looking to address that situation. Their resources will be bolstered with the return of Tillakaratne Dilshan, who is likely to recover from a back injury. Dilshan was replaced by Dimuth Karunaratne and the debutant showed spark in the second innings, managing a brisk half-century.


Nonetheless, Jayawardene claimed that Dilshan will most certainly walk into the team when he fully recovers from his back troubles. The skipper had already made it clear that the current series is crucial in terms of their preparation for the subsequent tour Down Under, where they take on the mighty Aussies.


Therefore, the showings of his bowlers would have given him plenty of encouragement. While Herath was expected to carry the bulk of the load, his authoritative outing will indeed be a pleasing factor for the hosts, who have generally struggled to find consistency in the spin bowling department following the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan.


The Lankans will further take heart from the performances of the seamers. Nuwan Kulasekara and Shaminda Eranga constantly kept their opponents on the toes and moreover made early inroads in each innings. Having found movement on slow pitches, they will relish the prospect of playing on livelier tracks in the coming month.


Expect no change to the lineup for the upcoming Test, although the return of Dilshan will see Karunaratne dropping to the bench. Chanaka Welegedara is also likely to miss out.


Sri Lanka (probable XI): Tillakaratne Dilshan/Dimuth Karunaratne, Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara/, Rangana Herath, Shaminda Eranga


New Zealand (probable XI): Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor (capt), Daniel Flynn, James Franklin/ Rob Nicol, Kruger van Wyk (wk), Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Jeetan Patel, Neil Wagner/Chris Martin

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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