New Zealand v Sri Lanka
Wedneday 8 March, 22:00
TV: Live on BT Sports
New Zealand have named the same 13 in their squad that managed a series draw against England. That means there is still no spot for Trent Boult who rejected a central contract to play franchise. He is not playing franchise currently.
Kane Willaimson will join the team late after the death of his grandmother but there are unlikely to be any changes from the XI that pulled off a stunner in Wellington.
Probable XI: Latham, Conway, Williamson, Young, Nicholls, Mitchell, Blundell, Bracewell, Southee, Wagner, Henry
If Sri Lanka win the series 2-0 they could make the World Test Championship final. A solitary win would be a remarkable achievement.
They rely on their old hands with the bat. Kusal Mendis, Angleo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal are vital in potentially bowler-friendly conditions. Opening bat and skip Dimuth Karunaratne is no mug, either.
A weak-looking attack could struggle with the ball. Lahiru Kumara and Chamika Karunaratne need to step up.
Possible XI: Oshada, D Karunaratne, Kusal, Mathews, Chandimal, Dhananjaya, Dickwella, C Karunaratne, Lahiru, Rajitha, Vishwa
In the last decade there have been 11 Tests at Hagley Oval. Ten of them have produced results, six won by the team batting first. Sri Lanka could come under pressure in the first dig with just 57 overs of warm-up under their belt.
South Africa were rolled for 95 and Bangladesh 126 last year. India were knocked over for 242 and 124 in 2020. Going under Sri Lanka runs at 250 at around 1.9010/11 looks a play.
New Zealand are 1.261/4, the draw is 8.808/1 and Sri Lanka are 9.809/1. The Kiwis should romp home.
But that's not to class them as a good side and Sri Lanka a poor one. The hosts may well end up being grateful for a lack of game time for Sri lanka by the second Test.
New Zealand have been on the slide for some time and we're not getting carried away with England leaving the back door open in Wellington.
Williamson has been boosted to 3/1 for top Kiwi bat in the first dig but our interest lies with the top Sri Lankan market. Chandimal is a strong fancy at 6/1 given his obdurate style and tight technique. He has four fifties in nine innings in New Zealand.