First Test preview: New Zealand v Sri Lanka

New Zealand

Sri Lanka have not played Test match cricket in New Zealand since 2005 and 2006, when they sustained two defeats, managed one draw and a single victory. Plenty of time to make up and history to correct, then.

The hosts will be without key all-rounder Corey Anderson and the tourists minus the services of spinner Rangana Herath. Both men have been sidelined from the series opener by injury.

A lot of focus will centre on Sri Lanka's seamers. A team very good at churning out plenty of solid spinners in sub-continental conditions will, indeed, be tested by the change of pace and approach. The faster men shone in the recent tour match, but five-day cricket is a substantially bigger challenge.

This tour, too, will serve as great acclimatisation for the Sri Lankans, who will be back in New Zealand next year for the World Cup. The Black Caps, meanwhile, will do well to one-up the 2011 showpiece's losing finalists – even if it is in a different format.

Key Men

Anderson's injury has placed plenty of responsibility on his replacement. While Dean Brownlie won't contribute with the ball, he must stand up and be counted in the middle order.

Sri Lanka need an attack leader – and anyone of Suranga Lakmal, Shaminda Eranga and Dhammika Prasad could oblige. It's Prasad, though, with his extra speed and bounce, that seems best suited.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results

2012: Second Test: New Zealand won by 167 runs in Colombo

2012: First Test: Sri Lanka won by 10 wickets in Galle

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

Squads

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Mark Craig, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal     Niroshan Dickwella, Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep, Prasanna Jayawardene, Dimuth Karunaratne, Tharindu Kaushal, Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera, Dhammika Prasad, Kumar Sangakkara, Kaushal Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne.

Dates: 26-30 December

On-field umpires: Richard Illingworth and Bruce Oxenford

Third umpire: Steve Davis

Match referee: Chris Broad

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