The World Cup runners-up New Zealand are all set to play Sri Lanka in a two-match Test series, starting from August 14 in Galle. If the Kiwis win the series 2-0, they would go above India and grab the No. 1 position in Test cricket.
India and New Zealand are currently first and second with 113 and 111 ratings respectively. The Test series is a first for hosts Sri Lanka as well as New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship (ICC WTC). A 2-0 series win would not only help the Kiwis attain the No. 1 spot but also give them 120 points in the ICC WTC.
Kane & Co. are expected to win the series with the current Sri Lankan team not looking good to take 20 wickets and score more runs than the Kiwis. However, the series should be exciting if the Lankans show resolve and not allow the visitors to steamroll them.
Sri Lanka made a mistake by providing rank-turners to the England bowlers as Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jack Leach proved to be too hot for the hosts and lost the series 3-0. They must be more focused towards their skill sets rather than the types of pitches required to keep the Blackcaps at bay.
The visitors also have spin variety in their squad and they will be looked upon to do the damage with the ball. Todd Astle and Mumbai-born Ajaz Patel will be the front-runners along with Mitchell Santner.
The Asian team recently beat South Africa in South Africa for the first time ever in Tests. Suranga Lakmal and Vishwa Fernando were the major contributors in the victorious series. The Kiwi coach Gary Stead is aware of that series and thus not taking the Lankans lightly.
He said, “They are a strong team. They will come into this series with lot of confidence behind them after what happened in South Africa.”
Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne also spoke on how difficult it will be to beat the Blackcaps in the longest format of the game.
He said, “New Zealand will be tough to beat. We have got guys who were not part of the series in South Africa, so we have got to make some tough calls.”
(With AFP inputs)