New Zealand have not won a Test series in Sri Lanka since 1998, and this really is as good a chance as any to right that dour record.

Sri Lanka have bigger fish to fry later this year, and this couldn't be a better opportunity to prepare for that series against an opposition that upstaged Michael Clarke's men in 2011.

Both sides have opted for rookies in spinner Tharindu Kaushal and spinning all-rounder Todd Astle - there must be no dillydallying in blooding them first up. The Galle pitch - arguably the fastest to deteriorate in world cricket today - demands their inclusion at the expense of a seamer.

The weather that marred the ODI series will feature again, to a lesser extent, but still enough to add a trying dynamic to a series opener already lined with big asks. What they want to overcome in terms of opposition and turning conditions, the Black Caps will also have to combat in monsoon season.

While the result will largely be banked on the performance of the slow bowlers, and how the batsmen's ability (or lack thereof) to succeed against them, the role - and combination - of the seamers is not a sideshow.

Sri Lanka require a swift decision in their reliance on Nuwan Kulasekara over the pace and bounce of Shaminda Eranga, while the Kiwis can't afford to keep the metronomic Chris Martin out of their XI any longer. Chanaka Welegedera, meanwhile, is back from injury - and eager to re-establish himself as the host nation's premier left-arm fast bowler.

Familiar rivals in limited-overs competition, the sides have not met in Test competition in three years, when a succession of five results defied the draw-favouring conditions. The contest requires similar this time around.

Key Men
Sri Lanka: The absence of Tillakaratne Dilshan is a hefty void to fill, with a lot asked of the uncapped Dimuth Karunaratne, who hasn't played first-class cricket for three months.

New Zealand: For all his demands that the visiting batsmen triumph despite spin adversity, Ross Taylor will do his words - and credibility - the world of good with a big showing in Galle.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results
2009: Second Test: Sri Lanka won by 96 runs in Colombo
2009: First Test: Sri Lanka won by 202 runs in Galle
2006: Second Test: Sri Lanka won by 217 runs in Wellington
2006: First Test: New Zealand won by five wickets in Christchurch
2005: Second Test: New Zealand won by an innings and 38 runs in Wellington

The odds are stacked heavily against the visitors, and their darkhorse status can only carry them so far, with Sri Lanka set for an easy victory in their own backyard.

Online betting firm Sky Bet has Sri Lanka as favourites in the betting for the first Test. Visit Sky Bet for the latest cricket betting.

Probable Teams
Sri Lanka: Tharanga Paranvitana, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene (wicketkeeper), Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Tharindu Kaushal, Chanaka Welegedara.

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor (captain), Daniel Flynn, James Franklin, Kruger van Wyk (wicketkeeper), Todd Astle, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Jeetan Patel.

Dates: 17-21 November
Morning session: 10:00 - 12:00 (04:30 - 06:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:40 - 14:40 (07:10 - 09:10 GMT)
Evening session: 15:00 - 17:00 (09:30 - 11:30 GMT)
On-field umpires: Nigel Llong and Marais Erasmus
Third umpire: Ranmore Martinesz
Match referee: Javagal Srinath