Sri Lanka wait on Herath fitness for second NZ test

Saturday, 3 January 2015 03:44 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath is “50-50” to play New Zealand in the second test at the Basin Reserve, though Sri Lanka will still go into the game keen to play positive, attacking cricket, captain Angelo Mathews has said. The 36-year-old Herath, who was the world leading test wicket taker in 2014 with 60 wickets, missed the first game with a leg injury and his replacement Tharindu Kaushal was hammered to all parts of Hagley Oval by a rampant Brendon McCullum. “Still 50-50,” Mathews told reporters on Friday before the second match at Wellington’s Basin Reserve when asked on whether Herath would play. “He will have to have a fitness test tomorrow but we can’t make a decision until he has done that test.” Herath has a formidable record against New Zealand, having taken 31 wickets in four matches, though three of those games were in Sri Lanka and New Zealand captain McCullum said it would be interesting to see how he handled the green Wellington pitch. “I don’t think we have played him in these conditions,” McCullum said. “He is a very, very good bowler. He’s a smart, no-frills cricketer who just keeps at you and very rarely gives you a bad ball. It will be interesting to see how he bowls in these conditions but they will be stronger for his inclusion in the team and that presents us with a different challenge.” Sri Lanka lost the first test in Christchurch by eight wickets but Mathews was adamant they would bounce back by playing aggressive, positive cricket. “We have got no choice rather than going out there and playing positive cricket,” he added. “Sri Lanka has always come back really hard after losing the first test. If you lose 1-0 or 2-0 it doesn’t matter. We want to square the series up and we have to play aggressive cricket to do that. We have the confidence that we can come back and win. We still believe we can win this.” Mathews added that his batsmen, who were undone by a superb swing bowling performance from Tim Southee and Trent Boult in their first innings in Christchurch, had been facing two-piece balls in their net sessions ahead of the Wellington game. “Two pieced (balls) swing more than the four-piece, so it was just to counter the swing bowling and make you feel better with what we expect (to face) from Southee and Boult,” he said. “They have been really good in the last few years, they have been taking a lot of wickets with the new ball and the old ball as well.”

 Huge responsibility to fill Mahela Jayawardene’s void: Lahiru Thirimanne

IANS: Sri Lankan left-hander Lahiru Thirimanne says he has big boots to fill as he is slowly getting into the groove to bat at the crucial number four position vacated by former captain Mahela Jayawardene, who retired from Tests in August 2014. “Batting at No.4 is a big challenge for me, because that was Mahela Jayawardene’s spot. I need to work very hard to live up to that. It’s a position that’s very valuable for the team and we’re used to some top performances from our No.4 batsman,” Thirimanne was quoted as saying by “That’s not an easy loss to fill. But I’m taking it game by game, and I’ve filled my head with thoughts about how the next match should be approached.” In their Test match at Christchurch where the Black Caps’ skipper Brendon McCullum blasted away the Lankan attack with a blistering 195 and won the game with eight wickets to spare, Thirimanne collected a match aggregate of 49 runs. The 25-year-old Thirimanne, however, said he took plenty of confidence in his long stay at the crease in the second innings when he played out 124 deliveries in over three hours in the middle. “In the second innings, what we needed most was for someone to build a partnership with Dimuth Karunaratne. The way I batted in that innings is perhaps not my natural style, but it was good in the sense that I hit a lot of balls in the middle of the bat. I’m happy with that.” The second Test will be played at the Basin Reserve, Wellington, from January 3.