Encouraged Sri Lanka look to burst New Zealand's bubble in Wellington
Sri Lanka's hopes of reaching the WTC final were ended in the series-opener in Christchurch
Wellington (Reuters) - Sri Lanka are convinced they can take 20 New Zealand wickets in the second test starting in Wellington on Friday and tie the series despite losing the motivation of the World Test Championship (WTC).
Sri Lanka's hopes of reaching the WTC final were ended in the series-opener in Christchurch, where they lost by two wickets in a cliffhanger decided on the last ball. As galling as that defeat was, Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne said his team were encouraged by how much pressure they put the hosts under at Hagley Oval.
"We challenged the Kiwis' top batters," the opening batsman told reporters on Thursday.
"Even the (New Zealand) players also talked to me and said they didn't even expect that kind of bowling pressure from the Sri Lankans. "I have been touring New Zealand a few times but this is the first time I saw the Kiwis are struggling against the fast bowlers."
Sri Lanka's chance of a rare series win in New Zealand has gone but victory at the Basin Reserve would help them end a losing streak in the country going back to 2006 when they split a series. Motivation may be more of a challenge for the hosts in their final match of a roller-coaster home summer after the emotional highs of winning successive cliffhangers against England in Wellington and the Sri Lankans in Christchurch.
Firebrand paceman Neil Wagner has been ruled out with a hamstring strain and his passion will be missed, particularly if another match goes down to the wire.
Neither team have decided on their 11 but New Zealand are expected to include Doug Bracewell for his first test in years to join captain Tim Southee and Matt Henry in the pace attack.
"I think it's a deserved call-up after what he's done in domestic cricket over the last number of years," Southee told reporters of Bracewell, who would join his all-rounder cousin Michael in the team. "It's exciting to have him and his skill-set around the group." New Zealand have happy memories of their last test at the Basin Reserve where they beat England by one run, becoming only the fourth team in history to claim victory after being made to follow on.
The players piled into a limousine and drove a few laps of the ground in celebration before a big night out. Southee suggested there would be no need for another limousine booking to motivate his team. "It's our last test at home for the summer, our last test for a number of months, so I'm sure the guys will be wanting to finish what's been an exciting summer of test cricket," he said.