For the climax that the contest in Christchurch reached, it's going to be a quick denouncement only one ball later in Sri Lanka's tour of New Zealand - from the last delivery at Hagley Oval to the first at Basin Reserve. For all the relevance it carried, for Sri Lanka, India - and to an extent even Australia, who would've been curious to find out their opposition at the World Test Championship final - a lot of it would be lost in the second Test, starting Friday.
For the hosts, New Zealand, who had only come fresh from a thrilling one-run win against England to draw the two-match Test series a few weeks ago, that promised to revive the sport in the country, the last-ball victory against Sri Lanka plays perfectly into their hopes and efforts. Now, they are in with a chance of winning a series to cap off their home summer.
But can they do it?
Does Sri Lanka have enough motivation left in the tank to fight back from hereon? Unable to clinch the previous contest from a dominant position, letting go off the opportunity to stay in contention for a WTC final berth and then unable to save the match on a rain-hit day. Quite a few hopes were dashed in the first Test.
On a positive note though, there were ample shades of brilliance, of being able to adjust in conditions where New Zealand have dominated quite a bit in recent years. It has not been the easiest of conditions for touring sides, but Sri Lanka proved that they were a match.
When: Friday, March 17, 2023, 11 AM Local Time
Where: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Basin Reserve, Wellington
What to expect: While England batters did take New Zealand apart in the first innings in the previous Test at the venue, seamers are expected to get aid on the first couple of days. Kusal Mendis had found success with his aggressive play in Christchurch, and Sri Lanka wouldn't mind taking that approach again.
Neil Wagner has been ruled out of the Test due to multiple injuries. Doug Bracwell has been drafted in as his replacement in the squad but it could be Scott Kuggeleijn who might replace Wagner in the XI. Tim Southee has hinted on giving some of the bowlers a rest ahead of a packed cricket calender.
Probable XI: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell, Michael Bracwell, Scott Kuggeleijn, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner.
Despite the loss, and some erratic bowling in patches, there is little reason for Sri Lanka to make changes to their XI.
Probable XI: Oshada Fernando, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Kasun Rajitha, Prabath Jayasuriya, Lahiru Kumara, Asitha Fernando
What they said:
The bowlers have had a big workload over the last few weeks so it's about getting guys as fresh as we can. I don't think it's about getting guys up - any time you play a test match it's a special occasion so the guys are up for it. It's our last test at home for the summer and our last for a number of months so the guys will be wanting to finish what's been an exciting summer of test cricket - Tim Southee, New Zealand captain.
New Zealand Squad: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell(w), Michael Bracewell, Tim Southee(c), Matt Henry, Blair Tickner, Doug Bracewell, Will Young, Scott Kuggeleijn
Sri Lanka Squad: Oshada Fernando, Dimuth Karunaratne(c), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella(w), Kasun Rajitha, Prabath Jayasuriya, Lahiru Kumara, Asitha Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, Ramesh Mendis, Kamindu Mendis, Nishan Madushka, Milan Priyanath Rathnayake