Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Tale of the Tape - Sri Lanka vs NZ 1st Cricket Test preview

It's bordering on high summer and that means Test Cricket.  Starting Boxing Day is the first tests between two foes that seem to share the spoils with neither team showing a march on the other as far as results go.  It's fair to say then, a review of series over 20 years before the meaty preview.

Since 1994 Sri Lanka and New Zealand have played 15 tests with varying results as shown below:

at Napier SL by 241 runs
at Dunedin Drawn

at Dunedin  NZ by an innings and 36 runs
at Hamilton  NZ by 120 runs

1998 (the only 3 test series in this review)
at Colombo NZ by 167 runs
at Galle  SL by and Innings and 16 runs
at Colombo SL by 164

at Colombo  Drawn
at Kandy  Drawn

at Christchurch NZ by 5 wickets
at Wellington SL by 217 runs

at Galle  SL by 202 runs
at Colombo  SL by 96 runs

at Galle SL by 10 mwickets
at Colombo NZ by 157 runs.

Sri Lanka has won 7 and New Zealand 5 with 3 draws.

So with that in mind, how does this two test series pan out?  There was always an old adage the likes of the subcontinent teams never traveled well away, but Sri Lanka always seemed to disprove that myth.  They have had their share of wins here and they always have a team that battles to the very end.  In fact in the day, Sri Lanka mirrored New Zealands fortunes.  Then one day they got better!!

So where can New Zealand look for assistance to achieve a two test win.  Well not in Christchurch.  The forecasted hot weather will play into both teams hands as far as supreme batting goes.  I don't see the seamers dominating and the wicket will hold true and that will eliminate the spinners later in the match.  Wellington however (barring rain) will suit us down to the ground as far as recent history and bowling goes.  Having said that however it should be noticed that Sri Lanka won their only test in the past 20 years in Wellington and by over 200 runs.  Enough of a gee up for our team to right that wrong??

So with a drawn series likely which team holds the guns?

New Zealand is resurgent especially under McCullum's captaincy and his good form in the test arena of late.  In fact with he, Taylor and Williamson providing run scoring stability in the past 18 months it's fair to say we negate the threat of Sanggakara, Dilshan and Jayawardene.  So where to then?  Well our all-round capabilities are growing, with the likes of Anderson and Craig finding a niche in the top side, and who could go past the threat our pace men display.  It's far to say our bowlers should be a tad ahead of their Sri Lankan counterparts.  But can they take 20 wickets in both tests?  The pitches should say yes but a toss can ruin the best of intentions.

Sri Lanka do have the firepower in the batting department (the top three aforementioned) and a very useful spinner in Herath but very little is known of their seam attack and how potent they will be here.  And if memory serves me right, this is the last tour for Kumar Sanggakara and Jayawardene and will that be telling?  Both elderly statesmen of the game and maybe not on the top of their game.  OK I rescind that remark, both still capable of tearing an attack apart.  I think Sri Lanka do have a very good team, but how they cope after the draw in Christchurch and having to face the wind in Wellington is yet to be seen. (Ok I apologise to Wellingtonians, the zephyr)

So now stick the neck on the line time.  I love predicting things.  I also love being wrong most of the time.  It's Christmas so I'll be bold and do some heavy duty predicting.

Christchurch - Hagley Ovals first test match.  Green wicket for first session drying out under the hot Canterbury sun.  BMac will win another toss (he's starting to improve) and bat first.  At Lunch we will be 125 without loss, Latham on 48, Rudders Jr on 70.  At tea, 239/2 Latham out for 62, Williamson for 43, Rudders 110no,Taylor 18no, Stumps day one, Rudders 153no, Taylor 51, BMac 12no 330/3  Day Two  Lunch  Rudders 195no, BMac 65no 432/3, Tea Rudders 229,  BMac 108no, Anderson 48no 557/4 dec.  Stumps  SL 108/2.  Day Three Stumps 429/5 Day Four Tea SL 587 all out.  NZ Bat out a Draw.

Wellington - Basin Reserve - Scene of BMac's heroics last year vs India.  Weather will ruin this test and a draw eminent. Of course the Pohutakawa's will look nice in the rain.

K, stuck my neck out.  Hope I'm right on our progress first test, first innings, the rest is in the lap of the gods and MIGHT swing our way!!  Hope so, been 17 years since a series win for us.

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