Sri Lanka opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan will miss the first test against New Zealand starting on Saturday due to a persisting back injury.

Dilshan missed two recent one-day internationals because of the disk-related problem and he has not recovered enough to play a test, captain Mahela Jayawardene said on Friday.

Jayawardene said Dilshan could probably have batted without a problem but his fielding was a concern.

Test newcomer Dimuth Karunaratne will open the batting alongside Tharanga Paranavitana. Karunaratne has represented Sri Lanka in two one-dayers and has a first-class average of 45 with 3,022 career runs.

Selectors chose Karunaratne with a plan to groom a long-term opener, Jaywardene said.

Sri Lanka batting heavyweights Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera are all in their mid-30s.

The hosts have called up test specialists Samaraweera, Paranavitana, wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, seamers Chanaka Welegedara and Dhammika Prasad and spinner Suraj Randiv.

Tharindu Kaushal a teenage offspinner with no first-class cricket, is also included in a three-man spin attack led by left-armer Rangana Herath. Only two of them will play on a Galle International Stadium pitch that has traditionally favored spin.

Offbreak bowler Jeetan Patel, who has arrived for the tests, will shoulder New Zealand’s spin bowling responsibility.

Experienced opening batsman Martin Guptill and fast bowler Chris Martin have also reinforced New Zealand.

Former Sri Lanka seam bowler Chaminda Vaas has joined the New Zealand coaching staff to assist the seamers.

The hosts have won three of the six test series against New Zealand at home with the Kiwis winning only the inaugural series in 1983. Two series were drawn.

Teams:

Sri Lanka- Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne, Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedara, Shaminda Eranga, Dhammika Prasad, Tharindu Kaushal.

New Zealand- Ross Taylor (captain), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Daniel Flynn, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Chris Martin, Rob Nicol, Jeetan Patel, Tim Southee, Kruger van Wyk, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson.

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