NZ look to exploit SL’s Oval weakness
New Zealand will be hoping to add to Sri Lanka’s poor record at their own Oval ground and level the series in the second and final Test starting Thursday.
Unlike the spinner’s paradise at Galle and the batting haven that is the P. Sara Oval -- the only ground in Asia where Don Bradman played -- favours seam bowlers.
Sri Lanka have been often exposed here by quality seam bowlers and one up in the two-match series, they will have New Zealand’s Trent Boult and Tim Southee -- and possibly Neil Wagner -- to contend with.
In the last 10 years, Sri Lanka have played seven games at The Oval and lost five, including once to New Zealand. In that game seven years ago, Southee claimed eight wickets while Boult finished with seven.
“We have some fond memories from last time, and we managed to win that,” New Zealand wicketkeeper B.J. Watling said at a pre-match media briefing on Wednesday.
“The boys like to talk about their wickets and there’s a few stunning catches from memory as well. Having good memories is always good, but it is a new game, a new day, and we need to be switched on,” Watling added.
Left-arm quick Wagner claimed nine wickets in New Zealand’s last Test match and was unlucky to miss out in Galle as conditions heavily favoured spin. He is expected to make a return possibly at the expense of Mitchell Santner.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, will leave out off-spinner Akila Dananjaya, whose action was reported to be suspect for a second time by match officials after the Galle Test. Dilruwan Perera has been drafted into the squad and is expected to play.