Tough task for Sri Lanka
22 Dec 2005
By: Richard Edmunds
New Year's Eve sees the resumption of the series that was called off due to the Boxing Day Tsunami, after NZ comfortably won the only match played on that tour. Sri Lanka face a difficult task avoiding similar results in the four upcoming matches.
Sri Lanka have always had some difficulty playing in New Zealand conditions, conditions which are very different to those they are used to. Sanath Jayasuriya's return though is a big help, as he has caused some painful memories for New Zealand supporters, particularly his blistering century at Eden Park in 2001. Muttiah Muralitharan will also play a major part in the series, after he missed the original tour and the rescheduled test series in March-April due to injury. The champion spinner has always caused some problems for New Zealand batsmen and is quite likely to continue that record.
New Zealand have made a lot of changes since their last match, their brilliant run chase against Australia in Christchurch. Out go struggling batsmen Craig McMillan, James Marshall and, somewhat surprisingly, Nathan Astle, along with bowlers Chris Martin and James Franklin. In their places come Jamie How, Peter Fulton and Andre Adams, who returns after missing the Australia series through injury.
Sri Lanka have won just eight ODIs this year, three of which were against Bangladesh. New Zealand are always difficult to beat at home, and with a full-strength bowling attack and a couple of young batsmen keen to prove their worth at the top level, Sri Lanka may struggle in the four match series. But they have many players of such high class, the likes of Jayasuriya, Muralitharan, Marvan Attapattu, Kumar Sangakkara and Chaminda Vaas, that you can never write them off.
Although the odds seem in New Zealand's favour, Sri Lanka lack nothing in ability and should make it a far from boring series.