NZ eye top spot in Sri Lanka

Kane Williamson will be the back bone of New Zealand

Kane Williamson will be the back bone of New Zealand

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne said his team, written off before the South Africa tour, had gained significant confidence from that series, although that positivity has been offset by backroom problems.

Batsmen: Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kane Williamson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls. Prior to that, they finished a World Cup campaign that was nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

The hosts have dumped head coach Chandika Hathurusingha halfway through his three-year tenure, with former fast bowler Rumesh Ratnayake now filling in on an interim basis.

Dananjaya struck twice to remove opener Tom Lathan and skipper Kane Williamson for a duck in the same over in the first session to reduce New Zealand to 71-3.

All things considered, though, New Zealand certainly have the edge. The Dimuth Karunaratne-led side has to stop the Blackcaps from a 2-0 victory which the tourists need to climb to No.1 in Test rankings.

Becoming No 1 in Tests is a reality for New Zealand, and they are determined to get there.

El-Zakzaky, wife arrive Abuja Airport enroute to India
Sheikh El-Zakzaky and his wife as they prepare to leave Nigeria. The IMN leader is flying to India for medical treatment.

Although seam is New Zealand's strength, they are likely to stick to two seamers with all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme coming in as the third option. There had been a succession plan in place in the shape of Dilruwan Perera, but with him also out injured, Sri Lanka have suddenly lost some 378 wickets worth of spin-bowling experience on home soil.

Dinesh Chandimal has not played for Sri Lanka since February.

Sri Lanka have made some big changes to their team with experienced players like Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal returning to the side. New Zealand, meanwhile, could field three frontline spinners, with Todd Astle missing out.

The Sri Lanka captain further spoke about the importance of drying up runs up in the first Test since the pitch is more batting-friendly than it usually is in Galle.

Still, Sri Lanka is always a tough prospect on its home pitches and Galle will likely assist the home team's spinners despite rain falling on the eve of the opening test on Tuesday. Muttiah Muralitharan is the highest.

The Black Caps now sit second on the rankings on 111 points, two behind India who open a two-test series against West Indies in the Caribbean next week. They are really looking forward to the opportunity in another country where the conditions will be slightly different again.

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