New Zealand: TWLWW
Sri Lanka: TLLLW
Our prediction is New Zealand to win!
Welcome to the match preview of the famous boxing day test match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. New Zealand were held on to a draw by rain affected fifth day and herculean batting efforts of Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis on the fourth day. New Zealand looked well poised to win the first test after taking first innings lead of almost 300 runs. Kiwi Skipper Kane Williamson has been in sublime form recently and he missed on a well deserved century in the last match. Tom Latham played a record breaking innings by scoring 264 runs and carrying the bat. All the Kiwi batsmen Henry Nichollas, Ross Taylor, Jeet Raval and All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme were amongst runs in the last match. On the bowling front Tim Southee was their star who was well supported by Trent Boult and Neil Wagner. Ajaz Patel is the lone spinner in the playing XI. They were made to sweat on a wicketless fourth day by Sri Lankan batsmen.
Sri Lanka looked down and out at the end of the third day but the batting effort of Mathews and Mendis brought them back into the game. Rain plyed a spoilsport and ended the match as an anti-climax. In the batting department, Mathews, Karunaratne, Mendis and Dickwella have played well and scored vital runs. Skipper Dinesh Chandimal and De Silva missed out in the first match and will be raring to go in this match. Their bowling has looked lackluster and toothless in the first match. Pacers Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha and Suranga Lakmal should up their ante and take wicket at regular intervals. Spinners Dilruwan Perera and de Silva must support them by providing the much needed control in the middle. They must not allow New Zealand to score runs in excess of 350-400 runs. This might be a great opportunity for them to win a series in New Zealand.
Kane Williamson – Williamson has been on song recently and scored runs almost every match. He has surged in ICC rankings to third spot owing to his consistent performance.
Henry Nicholas – Nicholas has been in a purple patch and scored vital runs every time he plays. He has broke into top 10 players in the ICC Test batsmen rankings.
Trent Boult – Boult is a master of swing bowling and he his hard to stop in favorable conditions. Boult would love the grass cover on the pitch and make batsmen dance to his tune
Stats from the recent match:
Tom Latham - 264* runs (489 balls)
Tim Southee – 8 wickets at an average of 15 (6/68 & 2/52)
Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, BJ Watling (Wk), Trent Boult, Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner.
Matt Henry might not get a place in the playing XI yet. Coach Hesson sounded positive about their bowler’s fitness after their hectic workload. New Zealand might go in with an unchanged XI.
Dimuth Karunaratne – Karunaratne has been their batting mainstay scoring runs all over the world. He scored an excellent 79 runs in first innings last match.
Kusal Mendis – Mendis curbed his aggressive instincts and batted for more than 300 balls and 455 minutes for his well composed century in second innings. He remained at the grease for an entire day with Mathews.
Suranga Lakmal – Lakmal is pace spearhead of Sri Lankan team and he must take wickets with new ball to make early in roads in Kiwi batting line up.
Stats from the recent match:
Angelo Mathews – 203 runs (83 & 120*)
Lahiru Kumara – 4 wickets at an average of 31.75 (4/127)
Dinesh Chandimal (C) , Danushka Gunathilaka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella(Wk), Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Ranjitha/ Dushmantha Chameera.
Chameera might replace Ranjitha in the playing XI. Ranjitha failed to pick up a single wicket even after bowling 44 overs in their lone innings. No other changes are expected in their playing XI.
Hagley Oval is known to have grass cover and aid the seam bowlers in the first day. The pitches eases out on second and third days and are best days for batting. Hagley Oval is expected to have cloud cover with intermittent rains expected. This has been happy hunting ground for New Zealand, they have won 3 matches, lost once and drawn once.
Overcast Conditions and grass cover will make life hard for batsmen in the start of the game. Both teams would look to exploit these conditions and put the opposition to bat. Teams batting second have won all the matches at the Hagley Oval so far.
New Zealand team is hard to stop recently showing their class and temperament in the test matches. They were undone by rain and superb batting in first match, where they were on top for almost the entire duration of the match.
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