SL tour of NZ: New Zealand Vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test at Christchurch, 26 Dec, 2014
Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand :New Zealand Vs Sri Lanka, Live scores at Christchurch, 26 Dec, 2014.Match scheduled to begin at 11:00 local time (22:00 GMT)
Match Teams:New Zealand Vs Sri Lanka
Match Venue: Played at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Match scheduled to begin at 11:00 local time (22:00 GMT) (3:30 AM IST)
Toss: Sri Lanka, who chose to bowl first
Live Ball by ball updates
Recent Matches results
(last five matches, most recent first)
New Zealand: W D L W L
Sri Lanka: W W D L W
The pitch is positively leafy, with bounce and pace as well, according to the groundsman. Sri Lanka can expect a trial by pace. The skies should be clear for the first two days as well, and while the weather is not quite balmy, even the Sri Lanka players probably won't need their sweaters.
Kane Williamson has been New Zealand's long-term batting investment, and in 2014, he has proved to be the ace-in-the-hole the team had hoped he would become. He averages 60.28 in eight Tests this year, and has doubled his century-count to eight. He is coming off a rich tour in the UAE in all formats, and if Sri Lanka's spinners ever become relevant in this tour, he is the New Zealand batsman best-placed to counter it.
Angelo Mathews was named captain of the ICC XI this year, but no one is more aware than the man himself that the greatest tests for his leadership are to come. Mathews has had perhaps the best support network of any international captain in his 18 months at the helm, with Mahela Jayawardene's tactical acumen to call upon, as well as Rangana Herath and Kumar Sangakkara's experience. Now, with Jayawardene retired and Herath ruled out of the first Test, Mathews has lost a good portion of his safety net. It will be intriguing to see if he will continue in the aggressive vein he has recently developed, or slip back into the conservatism that marked the early part of his captaincy.
Things that are less green than this Hagley Oval surface in the approach to the Test: Kermit the frog, the Kyoto protocol, Sri Lanka's seam attack. It's not that New Zealand don't rate Sri Lanka in seaming conditions. At least, they have not outwardly said they don't. They just rate themselves more. With an outswing bowler in Tim Southee, and inswinging left-armer in Trent Boult, a hit-the-deck seamer in Doug Bracewell, and a tearaway in Neil Wagner, New Zealand possess a fast-bowling full house. Of course they rate themselves.
Previous Sri Lanka teams might have been perturbed by the hue of the surface, and the talk from the opposition, but this side is singing a more confident song. They have no quicks who have played more than 21 Tests, and four of the five fast-bowlers in the squad have played fewer than 16.
But they have done it before, this year, in Dubai, Dhaka and Headingley, they say, so what of the inexperience? Sri Lanka feel they have weapons too. Maybe not the gatling guns and rocket launchers - but a more old-fashioned breed of armaments: like the katana and the shuriken. They weaken the opposition before striking hard, rather than blowing top orders away on sight.
In the batting, New Zealand have the edge again, but when the opposition top order features two candidates for Test cricketer of the year, the hosts can only claim so much of an advantage. It is difficult to recall a time when Kumar Sangakkara was truly out of form. Angelo Mathews, meanwhile, is becoming one of cricket's all-weather batsmen - as competent stonewalling on a spicy pitch, as he is attacking on a dustbowl.
New Zealand, meanwhile, have Kane Williamson in imperious touch, and Ross Taylor not trailing far behind. As India found out early in the year, Brendon McCullum is capable of monster innings, as well as the momentum-pinching slap-dash fifties.
The hosts are clear favourites, largely by dint of familiarity with the conditions. But in 2014, Sri Lanka have begun to build a reputation as a decent traveling team, and they are desperate to protect that.
The Boxing Day Test is the first of its kind in New Zealand, in 11 years. It is also the first Test in Christchurch since 2006. Sri Lanka were the tourists on that last occasion as well.
Angelo Mathews averages 86.62 from 13 matches as captain.
Sri Lanka's first ever overseas series win came in New Zealand, when they won one match and drew the other in 1995, but have since won only one more game in six attempts. That win came in Wellington in 2006.