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Sri Lanka on familiar ground in first Test

india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 12:43 IST
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Familiarity with local conditions and players will be an advantage to Sri Lanka in the first cricket Test against New Zealand starting at Christchurch on Thursday, coach Tom Moody said on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka is making its third visit to New Zealand in the past three years and Moody hopes its experience in local conditions may help it end its long wait for a Test series win away from home.

Sri Lanka has won only one of 11 Tests against New Zealand in New Zealand and that win came 11 years ago. That paltry return is part of a larger record which has seen Sri Lanka win only 14 Tests away from home in 83 matches since it gained Test status 24 years ago.

"Our record isn't as good as we'd like it to be in that area," Moody said.

"But we did pretty well in England (this year) and we're looking forward to making more progress in New Zealand.
 
"Everyone's in form, I reckon. It's just a matter of adapting pretty quickly to different conditions to what we've been playing in.
 
"With the volume of cricket we've played and the conditions we've been through, we've adapted very well. Right now the guys have no complaints.
 
"The thing is to stay positive, choose the right ball in the right zones and commit 100 per cent to scoring off them.
 
Sri Lanka's batsmen have been in outstanding form in the recent series against England and South Africa and they will face a New Zealand attack depleted by the absence of Kyle Mills.

Medium pacer Michael Mason also withdrew from the New Zealand Test squad on Wednesday suffering from a hamstring injury.

New Zealand will also field a new-look top order, continuing its search for a stable and productive opening partnership. Mathew Sinclair and Craig Cumming have both received recalls to the New Zealand team, which has made a habit in recent seasons of rotating top order places.
 
New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori acknowledged Sri Lanka would press New Zealand strongly in the two-Test series.
 
"The last time we saw them they were probably at the start of an upward curve," Vettori said.
 
"We beat them quite comprehensively but it's probably not a true reflection of the side they are at the moment."

Lineups:
New Zealand (from): Stephen Fleming, captain, Craig Cumming, Jamie How, Mathew Sinclair, Nathan Astle, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, James Franklin, Shane Bond, Chris Martin, Ian O'Brien.

Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardene, captain, Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratna Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Chamara Silva, Prasanna Jayawardene, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Akalanka Ganegama, Muttiah Muralitharan.

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