CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand and Sri Lanka both have unfinished business when they head into the series-deciding second Test in Christchurch on Wednesday.
The home side have put the frustration of the drawn first Test aside as they push to win a fourth consecutive series for the first time.
Sri Lanka are equally determined to show the epic partnership by Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis to save the match in Wellington last week was no fluke.
“We got so much confidence from that game for this game,” wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella said during nets practice Monday, ahead of the Boxing Day Test on what promises to be a green wicket.
“If we get some movement here our bowlers will do the job and they know what areas they must bowl at. Unlike in the subcontinent, we have to bowl fuller here.”
New Zealand went into the two-Test series with a chance to move to number two in the world rankings if they won both Tests.
That opportunity dissolved in Wellington with the heroics of Mathews and Mendis, as well as the rain which washed out most of the final day, leaving New Zealand with their next target of winning a fourth consecutive Test series.
In their 88-year Test history they have won three consecutive series on only four occasions.
– Proud record –
But having put down the West Indies, England and Pakistan over the past year, and posting 578 in their sole innings in the first Test against Sri Lanka, they sense a historic fourth is within reach.
“We’re very proud of our home record and I guess that’s one of the challenges now,” batting coach Craig McMillan said.
“This is a one-off Test match and with the series on the line there’s a lot for the side to play for.
The Hagley Oval wicket traditionally offers pace and bounce and both New Zealand and Sri Lanka voiced the importance of winning the toss and bowling first.
Neither side has finalised their playing XI, and while changes are unlikely, the emphasis for the fast bowlers could be less on the short-pitched deliveries New Zealand used to pound Sri Lanka with in Wellington.
New Zealand’s batting hero Tom Latham, who toiled for nearly 12 hours for 264 not out in Wellington, said the Hagley Oval wicket would require a rethink from the bowlers.
“There’s usually a bit of pace and bounce about it and it does offer a bit for the seamers so we’re going to have to adapt to these conditions as quickly as possible as well as the Sri Lankans,” he said.
“At least with the Basin it’s a little bouncier, so it’s about our bowlers realising what the right length is to hit and our batsmen adapting to a certain game plan that suits that sort of surface.”
The last time New Zealand and Sri Lanka played at Hagley Oval, in the 2014 Boxing Day Test, the tourists won the toss and bowled first only for New Zealand to win by eight wickets.