By Srian Obeyesekere
2-TEST TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND:
Sri Lanka renews rivalry with New Zealand since 2019 with an exuberant 17-man Test squad accentuating on youth and experience in a 2-match series, the first of which begins on March 9 at the Hagley,Oval in Christchurch. Led by the experienced Dimuth Karunaratne with former veteran captain Angelo Matthews too back in the fold, the brimming youthful clout bordering on the sensational new discovery with the bat Nishan Madushka and the Mendis duo in the exciting right hander Kamindu and Ramesh of all-round potential does infuse a new air of expectancy in a fold where there will be still competition to make it to the final eleven.
Sri Lanka last toured New Zealand in 2018-19 which New Zealand won 1-nil by virtue of a 42-run triumph in the second test at the Hagley Oval having drawn the first test at Wellington. Meanwhile, the last time the two countries met in Sri Lanka in the latter part of 2019 Sri Lanka won the first test by 6 wickets at the Galle International Cricket Stadium while the Kiwis squared up by winning the second test by an innings and 85 runs at the P. Saravanamuththu International Cricket Stadium.
Interestingly,)New Zealand will be captained by 34-year old Tim Southee who has replaced long time captain Kane Williamson who has stepped down after an exhilarating run leading his country to the World Test Championship title. A bowling all-rounder’ Southee has claimed 359 test wickets and scored 1950 runs from 92 appearances.
For the record, of 36 past exchanges, New Zealand has won 16 matches to Sri Lanka’s 9 with 11 drawn. Sri Lanka will play a warm up match on March 4 at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch ahead of the first test starting on March 9 at the same venue followed by the second test on March 17 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. The test series will be followed by three ODIs and three T20’s with Sri Lanka skippered by Dasun Shanaka. SRI LANKA SQUAD: Dimuth Karunaratne (Capt), Angelo Matthews, Oshada Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva, Chamika Karunaratne, Kamindu Mendis, Ramesh Mendis, Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Nishan Madushka, Asitha Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Milan Rathnayake, Prabath Jayasuriya, Vishwa Fernando.