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Sri Lanka maintains confidence despite losing a Christchurch nail-biter

Sri Lanka maintains confidence despite losing a Christchurch nail-biter

The final Test of the New Zealand summer

At a site they had previously dominated, in Christchurch, Sri Lanka came close to defeating New Zealand. Sri Lanka’s seam attack, in particular, should enter the Wellington Test with a degree of confidence. Kasun Rajitha bowled some outstanding new-ball spells, Lahiru Kumara hurried up batsmen with his pace, and Asitha Fernando was Sri Lanka’s finest bowler on the decisive fifth day of the match.

New Zealand will continue to back themselves, as Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell are in good form and other top-order batsmen regularly contribute. But, there will likely be more respect for the Sri Lankan attack than when the series began.

Sri Lankan bowlers are frequently simpler to smash off their lengths since they do not move the ball as far or as dexterously as New Zealand seamers. In Christchurch, all three openers generated catching and lbw opportunities.
Compared to Hagley Oval, Sri Lanka have been far more competitive at Wellington. In 2018, Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis batted for a full day and a session to salvage a Test. In 2006, Sri Lanka even won this match.

This is the final Test of the summer for New Zealand, and none are scheduled until December. A 2-0 series victory here would help salvage some pride from their disastrous World Test Championship cycle as defending champions, if nothing else.

Form guide

What Year Did New Zealand WWLDD (last five Tests, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LWLWL

Henry Nicholls and Asitha Fernando are featured.

About a year has passed since Henry Nicholls last reached 50 in this style. Since then, he has played 15 innings. There does not appear to be a significant technological flaw, but rather a series of errors in judgment and the accompanying loss of confidence. Nicholls, who began his career further down the order, is now batting at the No. 4 spot, which New Zealand has struggled to stabilize since the departure of Ross Taylor.
On the fifth evening in Christchurch, Asitha Fernando, who was playing his eighth Test and only his second in non-Asian conditions, bowled an unexpected high-quality performance. He is neither particularly tall nor particularly swift as a bowler. Yet, he has a formidable yorker and a solid bouncer, both of which can unsettle even the most composed batters. He has played primarily in unfavorable conditions, yet he has averaged 23.66 with 27 wickets to date.

Pitch and conditions: Rain could be detrimental.

On the eve of the Test, Sri Lanka’s captain Dimuth Karunaratne remarked that the pitch for this match appeared to be even greener than the one at Hagley Oval, which had resembled the outfield. Friday, Monday, and Tuesday are expected to be very rainy in Wellington during the following several days.

Typically, Basin Reserve pitches begin the match in a seamer-friendly manner before flattening considerably as the Test progresses.

Will Sri Lanka field a four-man bowling attack?

New Zealand will likely replace the injured Neil Wagner with Doug Bracewell. Since 2016, this will be Doug’s first Test.

New Zealand: 1 Tom Latham, 2 Devon Conway, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Henry Nicholls (probable). Five Daryl Mitchell 6 Tom Blundell (wk), 7 Michael Bracewell, Eight Doug Bracewell 10 Matt Henry, 9 Tim Southee (captain), 11 Blair Tickner

Sri Lanka appears to be seriously considering employing a four-man seam attack, which would result in the inclusion of left-armer Vishwa Fernando at the cost of left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya. This leaves Dhananjaya de Silva as the team’s primary spinner.

There is also a possibility that wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella would be replaced by debutant Nishan Madushka. Madushka gets included in the squad after scoring a century and a double-century at home against England A. During that series, he did not keep and led off the batting order. If he plays in Wellington, he will likely bat in the lower middle order while wearing gloves.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Oshada Fernando, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Angelo Mathew, The fifth Dinesh Chandimal, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Nishan Madushka (wk), 8 Kasun Rajitha, 9 Vishwa Fernando/Prabath Jayasuriya, 10 Asitha Fernando, 11 Lahiru Kumara

Facts and figures

In 17 innings at No. 4, Nicholls has a batting average of 21.62. At No. 5, the position he has occupied most frequently for New Zealand, he has an average of 39.76.
If Sri Lanka wins in Wellington, they would finish fourth in the WTC standings, after Australia, India, and South Africa, the two finalists.
If New Zealand wins, they will rise from eighth to sixth, while Sri Lanka would fall to fifth.
Asitha has never gone wicketless in an innings in which he has bowled more than six overs during his career.

“We witnessed their quality over the course of five days in Christchurch. A handful of these men have been to New Zealand on multiple occasions and have this experience. We are observing its benefits. They would like to finish the World Test Championship cycle on a high note after a successful two years.”
Tim Southee, captain of New Zealand, on Sri Lanka

“We posed a challenge to the New Zealand top order with our bowling. Even some of their players approached me and remarked that they had not anticipated such pressure from the Sri Lanka bowlers. I’ve traveled to New Zealand several times, but this is the first time I’ve witnessed the Kiwis struggle against our fast bowlers.”
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne

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