The flyslip may have dozed off during the Pak series but we are well and truly on for the NZ tour.
They’ve actually snuck in through the backdoor while SL were sowing up the last stitches on the Pak tour. You cant help but feel that SL have taken the foot off the pedal in the last 3 games they have played.
The kiwis however offer a fresh challenge.
Strangely SL do not have that good a record against them at home. The last time the islanders were there, was way back in 2003. SL was captained by Hashan Tilakaratne. Remember him ?
If you are thinking, ‘the one with the big bum’. You are right.
Fleming was still playing. And well too. He put up a mammoth 274 in Colombo. Bond was actually an international player. There were no 2020s and no IPL or Jesse Ryder.
Them were simple times.
The Kiwis didn’t loose that time either. Got off Scot- free with 2 draws. Even 13 wickets in 2 games by Murali couldn’t make them heel.
NZ actually had a good team back then. Led by Fleming and included batters like Styris, Horne and Oram.
Their attack had Bond and Vetorri.
Times have changed now though. And so have teams. SL are ranked 3rd in the world. The Kiwis are possibly playing some of their weakest test cricket.
But don’t let that fool you. Pakistan had plenty of chances to kill off SL in at least one of the tests but failed to take their opportunities.
SL’s batting is dodgy as ever and good fast bowling could expose them.
The clear difference between the two teams is the bowling line ups – a clue as to who will win the tests lie here.
SL have the variety of Kulesekara with his swing and seam and Thushara with his holding line different angle.
Then there is the spin arsenal in Murali, Herath and Mendis.
The kiwis will rely alot on Martin and O’brien and Vetorri. But the key might be the kind of series and more importantly the mood Oram is in. If he does not turn to jelly or dehydrate to death he might hold the aces for them.
Add to this they are being led by the wrong man. I don’t think Mccullum has a clue on how to lead this team and his battle with the more experienced Sangakkara will be pivotal too.
So by all counts SL are favorites to win at home. But they were in 2003 too.