Blackcaps v Sri Lanka: Kane Williamson expects improvement for second test

Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson had a disappointing test in Galle.
Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson had a disappointing test in Galle. Photo credit: Getty

Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson predicts his team will be better for the second test against Sri Lanka, after slumping to a six-wicket defeat in the series opener at Galle. 

Chasing 268 runs to go 1-0 up in the two-test series, Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne (122) and with Lahiru Thirimanne (64) put on a 161-run opening partnership that set the tone for a successful chase. 

The test was the Blackcaps' first since the Boxing Day test against Sri Lanka in Christchurch, which New Zealand won by 423 runs.

On top of that, some were playing their first competitive match since the heartbreaking loss to England in the Cricket World Cup one-day final.

Sri Lanka last played test cricket against South Africa in February, with ODI's being the primary focus for the big nations in the World Cup lead-up. 

The Blackcaps preparation wasn't helped, when rain restricted their three-day warm-up game to just 60 overs and New Zealand's batsmen didn't get the chance to bat. 

The last time Sri Lanka hosted New Zealand was in 2012, with the two-test series ending 1-1.

Williamson took plenty of positives from the six-wicket defeat, but believed they still hadn't quite transitioned from limited-overs to red-ball cricket.

The Blackcaps after the Cricket World Cup final.
The Blackcaps after the Cricket World Cup final. Photo credit: Photosport

"That last series here was a long time ago, but it was a brilliant performance from us to equal that series against a very strong Sri Lankan side," said Williamson. 

"We're up against a strong Sri Lankan side again, who know these conditions very well. They're very clinical at playing the sort of cricket that's required here. 

"We can take some lessons from the way they played as well. It was fairly evenly poised for a long part of the match, but they were exceptional in their last innings.

"For us, I think there were good bits in the game, but perhaps we weren't good enough for long enough."

Personally, the test was one of Williamson's worst performances with the bat, falling for zero in the first innings and four in the second, despite coming into the series with some blistering World Cup form.

"Personally, I was probably looking to be too positive, when it wasn't really required. In hindsight, if you go back in time, that wouldn't have been the option, because the wicket was pretty much just getting slower, rather than deteriorating."

Williamson felt 268 would have been a daunting target had the Galle pitch behaved traditionally.

"We thought the wicket would deteriorate more than it did," Williamson said. "It perhaps got slower. 

"It wasn't turning a huge amount out of the rough. It didn't get more difficult to bat on. 

"I think there was a little bit more bounce and the turn was a little bit quicker in the first innings. 

"It was a good batting surface as well. I thought our bowlers operated patiently for a long period of time. 

"We probably even bowled better in the second innings, but without the edges going to hand and those sorts of things, which is the nature of the game we play."

The second and final test in Colombo begins on Thursday.