Strong Sri Lankan bowling worries Vettori
Daniel Vettori has said he's aware it is not only Sri Lanka's spinners that his side will have to be wary of, but also the quick bowlers who were instrumental in the Test series victory over Pakistan.
"Spin is going to play an important part but I think from watching the Pakistan series, the seam bowlers have played an important role," Vettori told reporters after arriving in Sri Lanka for a six-week tour. "Our ability to counter the Sri Lankan spin bowlers is going to be a huge part of the game. However it will be ignorant for us not to acknowledge how well the Sri Lankan team has bowled."
Ajantha Mendis may have slipped down the pecking order after a poor series against Pakistan, but he still perceived as a threat for New Zealand. "We've only come across him in the ICC World Twenty20," Vettori said. "Brendon McCullum played with him in Calcutta (during the IPL). I suppose he brings in a little bit of knowledge in that department but it will be a learning curve for a number of our players as it will be against Murali as well. This is quite an inexperienced team and to some of the guys this is the first time they will be seeing Murali and Mendis."
Vettori admitted his team's strength and experience was in their bowling but hoped the batsmen would adjust to the conditions and come good.
"We have experience in our bowling - me, Chris Martin and Jacob Oram, that helps us a lot. We do have a very experienced top order but you have to say our strength is in our bowling," said Vettori, who is the most experienced player in the touring side with 92 Test appearances and 239 ODIs under his belt. "It's always different when you come up against foreign conditions. We are hoping that our bowling keeps up and our batting will not come under so much pressure."
New Zealand are a lowly seventh in the Test rankings, but Vettori said his team would fare better if they played more Tests. "Most of the guys in the side haven't played for a while, that's because we haven't played a lot of Test cricket," he said. "It is one of the reasons why we haven't performed so well in the Tests."
Sri Lanka are a formidable opposition, high on confidence from their Test and ODI series wins over Pakistan, but Kumar Sangakkara said his team still needed to work hard to rectify some of its lapses during the tour. "Once this is done Sri Lanka can obtain big scores and hold the upperhand over the opponents," he said at a press conference. Pakistan had squandered dominant positions to lose the Test series and the 2-0 margin was a little misleading as the difference between the teams was not great.
Sangakkara also described Muttiah Muraliatharan's decision to retire from Tests next year as sensible. "Murali has been an integral part of Sri Lanka cricket and he has another seven Tests to play and could achieve more laurels," he said. "He has made a thoughtful decision that is best for him."
New Zealand, touring Sri Lanka after a period of almost six years, will play a short series of two Tests and two Twenty20 Internationals in Colombo before taking part in a one-day tri-series which also involves India.
They begin their tour with a three-day practice match against the Sri Lanka Development Squad led by Jeewan Mendis on Friday at the Colts grounds in Colombo.
Sri Lanka Cricket Development XI squad: Jeewan Mendis (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Mahela Udawatte, Tharanga Paranavitana, Nadeera Nawela, Ashan Priyanjan, Ishara Amerasinghe, Nuwan Pradeep, Tharanga Lakshitha, Sachithra Senanayake, Shalika Karunanayake, Sachith Pathirana, Farveez Maharoof, Ranesh Perera and Prasanna Jayawardene (wk).