Blackcaps v Sri Lanka: New Zealand prepared for spin onslaught

Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson. Photo credit: Getty

The Blackcaps are braced for a barrage of spin in the opening test against Sri Lanka at Galle, starting Wednesday night (NZT).

The famous ground is renowned for its spin-friendly conditions and has produced results in its last 10 tests. The last five were all won by the side batting first by more than 200 runs, so winning the toss could be critical.

The rained-off warm-up game has also denied the visitors a chance to get acquainted with an unfamiliar attack. 

"We'll be facing a lot more spin, which will be really challenging," said Blackcaps opener Tom Latham. "There are some guys in their squad that we haven't faced, so it's about looking at the footage that we have and trying to find ways of playing them."

Sri Lanka will likely look to a trio of spinners - Lasith Embuldeniya, left-arm orthodx Lakshan Sandakan and left-arm wristspinner Akila Dananjaya.

Furthermore, Galle hasn't been a happy hunting ground for New Zealand teams, with three straight losses there since 1998.

The last of those losses came in 2012, when left-arm spinner Rangana Herath ripped through the Kiwis order to claim 11 wickets.

The Blackcaps are expected to bring three spinners of their own into the starting side.

Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville could be paired for the first time since their respective stunning debuts in the United Arab Emirates last November, while Todd Astle and Mitchell Santner also provide spin options.

The match will be the Blackcaps' first since their heartbreaking loss at the World Cup final at Lord's and Latham says the change into whites for the first contest of the new world test championship has been refreshing.

"The guys are coping pretty well. It's quite nice to have something different.

"There's a lot of new faces who weren't in the one-day squad and it seems quite fresh, and the boys are ready to go."

New Zealand enter the game as test cricket's number two-ranked side against the highly unpredictable Sri Lankans, who sit at sixth, and can grab the top spot with a series clean sweep.

The first ball in the opening test is due to be bowled at 4:30pm (NZT)

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