Kiwis face stiff challenge from in-form Sri Lanka

New Zealand's young side will face a stiff challenge when it plays a seasoned Sri Lanka team in a Test series starting from Tuesday.

updated: August 17, 2009 16:18 IST
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Galle, Sri Lanka:

New Zealand's young side will face a stiff challenge when it plays a seasoned Sri Lanka team in a cricket Test series starting Tuesday.

Sri Lanka is riding high on the back of several recent home victories including a 2-0 series win against Pakistan.

The Kiwis played their last Test four months ago against India, losing the three-match series 1-0.

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori says that this tour would serve as a learning experience for many in his team. Of his 15-man squad, 10 players have not played a Test against Sri Lanka which features two of the game's top spinners in Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis.

Vettori, a 92-Test veteran, is the most experienced player in the New Zealand lineup but 11 of the players in his side have only played 95 Tests between them.

However, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said that his team will not take New Zealand for granted.

"They've got good players. They've got really capable players who are just coming in," Sangakkara said. "This side you can't really take for granted."

New Zealand and Sri Lanka have played 24 Test matches since 1983 with the Kiwis winning nine and Sri Lanka five. They last met in 2006 and drew the series.

Sri Lanka will be boosted by the return of Muralitharan and regular wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardena, who sat out the Pakistan series because of injuries.

Jayawardena's return means Tillakaratne Dilshan, who kept wicket in the last series, will likely take up a new role as an opening batsman.

For New Zealand, seam bowler Daryl Tuffey returns to the Test side after five years. He had not been considered for selection in the team since 2007 when he joined the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League. Tuffey was picked to tour Sri Lanka after he severed links with the ICL.


Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Tharanga Paranavitana, Malinda Warnapura, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedera, Prasanna Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dammika Prasad, Thilan Thushara.

New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (captain), Craig Cumming, Grant Elliott, Daniel Flynn, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Tim McIntosh, Chris Martin, Iain O'Brien, Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Daryl Tuffey, Reece Young.