Mathews prepared for higher bowling load
Already the team's most experienced batsman, Mathews has seen his Test bowling average improve substantially over the past two years. This is partly because he has largely limited his bowling to the early overs of the innings, while the ball is still moving around. But he has also increasingly made significant breakthroughs for Sri Lanka.
Mathews had seven wickets at 30.42 for the year before a leg injury prevented his bowling during the West Indies tour in October. He has recovered and is fit to take the ball against New Zealand.
"I might have to bowl a few overs especially when it's seaming," he said. "I actually don't mind bowling quite a few overs when it's seaming, because I feel I can take quite a few wickets. Hopefully all goes well. I'm just staying focused and looking to perform myself."
Mathews also conceded that Sri Lanka's usual spearhead Rangana Herath may be reduced to a supporting role through the first stages of the Dunedin Test. The pitch appeared to have plenty of grass on the eve of the Test, but has been known to dry out as the match wears on.
"Herath's always been an attacking bowler for us, but the conditions might change his role," Mathews said. He might just have to hang in there till the fourth or fifth day. But you never know. He's a very good bowler and he can take wickets on any given track.
"If you're playing as a spinner in the first couple of days, you have to play a holding role. It's all about bowling in partnerships. You see what the wicket can do and what the conditions offer you. Then if it changes, you can change gears."
Mathews was also keen to see Chandimal remain at No.4 on the batting order despite Chandimal now having to take the gloves in Kusal Perera's absence. Chandimal had batted at No.6 and 7 in the first half of the year, but had been moved up the order in August, when Perera made his Test debut.
"Chandimal will bat at No. 4," Mathews said. "The best batters should bat up the order regardless. Kumar Sanga[kkara] has been doing that in the past six or seven years, batting at no. 3. I'm sure Chandimal will take that opportunity and bat at no. 4.
"We've all known Chandimal over the past few years, and we know what he can do. He's going to play a massive part in this tour. He's the only batsman after me who has got some experience under his belt, so hopefully he can deliver."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando