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New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has backed himself and offspinner Jeetan Patel to play a major role in the Tests, but has really put the pressure on his inexperienced batsmen. Vettori believed the series will be one of the toughest tests for New Zealand's batsmen and expected them to spend long hours in the middle to wear down the home bowlers.
"The way we bowl is going to dictate our fortunes in a lot of ways. You need to be patient at times," said Vettori. "The Sri Lankan wickets can help you out if you are consistent. That's where the Sri Lankan bowlers do really well. They hang in those areas and just give themselves a chance and can wear teams down as opposed to bowling through them quickly."
Vettori called on the primary batsmen, none of whom has played a Test in Sri Lanka, to adapt to the cauldron of local conditions and make sure they belonged at Test level. "The reason why we haven't performed in Test cricket is because our batting hasn't been as good as it should be. There are more opportunities for guys to consolidate their positions and put big performances on," he said. "This is one of the toughest tests they can get. If they can come through this they know they belong in Test cricket.
"We have been competitive in one-day and Twenty20 cricket. We have to find a way to improve our Test match performances."
Vettori felt it was important to get the services of former Pakistan offspinner Saqlain Mustaq to assist his batsmen to tackle the Sri Lankan spin bowlers. "It's particularly important for us with an inexperienced batting line up just to get a feel for spin. In this part of the world there is a lot of guys touring with the New Zealand team for the first time and to get some insights and some understanding of some bowlers," he said. "Saqlain is one of the pioneers of spin bowling since the doosra. It's a nice learning curve for some of our batsmen. Each individual batsman is going to work out on how they are going to work their way through that."