WELLINGTON, Sri Lanka will hope to put poor form and offfield chaos behind them when they face New Zealand in the first Test at Wellington's Basin Reserve on Saturday.
The tourists' preparations have been anything but smooth, with changes to
their coaching staff increasing pressure on a team coming off a 30 Test
series whitewash against England last month.
Former England player Jonathan Lewis was named as the side's new batting
coach this week, joining Australia's Steve Rixon, who was brought in as
fielding coach last week.
Sri Lanka's bowling coach Nuwan Zoysa was suspended by the International
Cricket Council in October after he was accused of matchfixing and other
That same month, exchief selector and former captain Sanath Jayasuriya was
charged for failing to cooperate with a matchfixing probe.
Adding to their woes, offspinner Akila Dananjaya was suspended this month
for having an illegal bowling action, and the national team's selection panel
was sacked over the England series loss.
Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne admitted it was difficult to block out
the upheaval and focus on the upcoming twoTest series.
It's not easy, swapping management but we're going to the same basics
and everything, he told Wellington's Dominion Post newspaper.
It's not a matter for us. We're trying to regroup as a team, do our best,
and trying to win.
The Sri Lankans, ranked sixth in the world, also have a poor Test record
against the Black Caps in New Zealand, winning only two of 17 matches against
Fourthranked New Zealand enter the series full of confidence after
securing their first away Test series win over Pakistan in 49 years, to give
coach Gary Stead a winning start to his tenure.
Stead said he was not taking Sri Lanka lightly and was concerned his
players may be drained after wrapping up series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi
Some guys are still struggling with jetlag and we going from the extreme
conditions of low, slow, turning wickets to probably a hard, fast bouncy
Basin Reserve wicket, he told Radio New Zealand.
They are all things that are little red flags that we need to be aware
of we're a little more vulnerable than we would normally be.
New Zealand have named a 13man squad for the series while Sri Lanka have
17 players to choose from, giving them added optiono with the bat.
The two Test series will be followed by three onedayers and a single
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor,
Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, BJ Watling, Will Young, Tim Southee,
Matt Henry, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis,
Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk),
Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dilruwan
Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha,
Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)