AFP: COLOMBO: New Zealand will be keen to put in an improved batting performance against Sri Lankan spin in the second and final Test in Colombo from Sunday to halt their losing streak.
The 10-wicket defeat in the opening match in Galle on Monday was the fifth consecutive Test loss for the Black Caps, following two defeats each in the West Indies and India.
New Zealand’s worst run came between January 1954 and October 1955 when they lost six Tests in a row.
Captain Ross Taylor said his team needed to solve their batting problems against spin, especially against left-arm spinner Rangana Herath who grabbed 11 wickets on a slow turning track in Galle.
“We need to come up with a plan on how we are going to combat Herath,” said Taylor. “We got to come up with a way of negating his wicket-taking ability. We need to pick ourselves up and give ourselves a big chance in the second match.”
Herath, who is again expected to play a key role, has been troubling touring sides this year with his subtle variations. He has already taken 45 wickets in six home Tests, with two hauls of 10 or more wickets in a match.
New Zealand managed just 221 in their first innings and 118 in the second before losing the opening Test inside three days, with Brendon McCullum and Daniel Flynn alone making half-centuries in the match.
The tourists will be encouraged with the performance of their fast bowlers, especially Tim Southee who bagged four quick wickets in the first innings to restrict Sri Lanka’s lead to just 26.
But the batsmen failed to build on their pacemen’s efforts in the second innings, setting a modest 93-run target for the hosts.
Sri Lanka were under pressure at 50-5 in their first innings before skipper Mahela Jayawardene (91) and vice-captain Angelo Mathews (79) propped up the innings with a 156-run stand for the sixth wicket.
“This is what winning Test matches is all about, winning tough moments and getting ourselves into a winning position under pressure,” said Jayawardene.
Herath was not the only bowler to test the New Zealand batsmen as pacemen Nuwan Kulasekara and Shaminda Eranga also struck at crucial stages, sharing seven wickets.
Sri Lanka will be determined to wrap up the series with a win in Colombo and boost their confidence ahead of next month’s tough tour of Australia.