'Our seamers will also get assistance' - Mathews
Upon seeing the Hamilton track's shock of green on Wednesday, interim head coach Jerome Jayaratne said the surface might have been "understandably doctored". On the eve of the Test, on which the surface appeared a lighter shade of green, Angelo Mathews suggested a spicy surface may work to his team's advantage.
His thinking is this: Sri Lanka are already a game down in the series, and a flat surface that produces a draw will not help them level it. Not only will Sri Lanka's seamers have an opportunity to take 20 wickets in Hamilton, but a pitch as spicy as this one is expected to be may have the added benefit of narrowing the quality gap between the two seam attacks. Low-scoring games are often prone to upsets.
"When you play on extreme wickets, both teams have equal opportunities," Mathews said. "It's just that you have to get a good start whether you bat or bowl. We'll definitely play to win because it doesn't matter if we lose the series 2-0 by trying to win this game."
Sri Lanka are now 0-3 in their Tests in New Zealand over the past year, but have in other nations achieved victory in seam-friendly conditions. Tests in Dubai and Headingley last year were won in part thanks to the seam attack's penetration in helpful conditions.
"If we are to have a chance of winning, we should play on a wicket like this, because our seamers will also get assistance," Mathews said. "We have a very good chance. It's just a matter of applying ourselves while batting and putting runs on the board. That will give our bowlers a chance."
Unsurprisingly, Mathews said he would bowl first if given the chance, but hoped his bowlers would make better use of a seaming pitch than they did in Dunedin. The frontline seam attack is likely to be comprised of Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep and Dushmantha Chameera, as it was in the first Test.
"If we bowl first we will definitely look to rectify the mistakes that we did in Dunedin, because we were nowhere near our best there. We've talked about it a lot. The bowlers have a very good understanding of what they have to do. We actually had assistance on that pitch but we didn't bowl well. Then we let them off the hook, and once they got to 400 it was really tough for us to get back into the game. This pitch will do a lot more than Dunedin. It has a lot more grass."
Sri Lanka may be tempted to play Kaushal Silva in their top order, given the lack of any major contributions from the inexperienced players in Dunedin. However, Mathews suggested the younger batsmen would be persisted with. This means Kusal Mendis, who has played two Tests, and Udara Jayasundera, who has played one, are likely to appear together in the top three again.
"We're not trying to make too many changes at the moment because we're trying to settle in as a team," Mathews said. "I know we've got so many younger players at the moment, but we can't just throw them out after playing one game. We've got to show faith in them. We might lose the odd Test along the way, but it's a matter of having patience and trusting them."
Having visited in successive New Zealand summers now, Mathews said his team had greater insight into the home team's capabilities. "We've played a lot of cricket against New Zealand and we know exactly their strengths and weaknesses. They are a very settled unit, a very experienced unit, and we've seen a lot of videos of them as well.
"It's just that we've got to do what we can do best. While bowling you've got to hit those areas and get them out. It's about being able to compete. We were nowhere near the New Zealanders in the first Test and we've got to go out there and enjoy our cricket."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando