Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan to miss first Test with back injury
Sri Lanka are set to probe New Zealand’s defences against spin in a two-Test series starting in Galle on Saturday as they seek to extend their dominance over the tourists.
The traditionally spin-friendly Galle International Stadium is a happy hunting ground for the hosts, who have won five, drawn one and lost one of their last seven Tests there. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and off-spinner Suraj Randiv called the shots in Sri Lanka’s last two Test victories at the venue, when they shared 30 wickets against England and Pakistan this year.
Sri Lanka, fresh from their 3-0 one-day series win over the tourists, have also named a third specialist spinner, 19-year-old Tharindu Kaushal, in the squad along with Herath and Randiv.
New Zealand have already lost much of their bowling strength in the absence of match-winning left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, who was ruled out of the tour after failing to recover from an Achilles strain.
Off-spinner Jeetan Patel is the most experienced specialist slow bowler in the Kiwi squad with 47 wickets in 15 Tests, while leg-spinner Todd Astle has yet to make his Test debut.
New Zealand need to raise their batting performance as they seek to avoid their fourth successive Test series defeat this year, having already lost to South Africa at home and then in the West Indies and India.
The return of batsmen Martin Guptill and Daniel Flynn, and paceman Doug Bracewell, who were not part of the one-day team, has bolstered New Zealand who will be keen to improve their Test record in Sri Lanka.AFP