If one takes a look at the result of the previous two series of New Zealand and Sri Lanka, it would paint an inaccurate picture. In their most recent series Sri Lanka beat West Indies 2-0, while New Zealand were at the receiving end of an identical scoreline in an away series in Australia. However when New Zealand open their home summer with the first Test against Sri Lanka at the University Oval, Dunedin, they will begin as the clear favourites. A lot of factors render the most recent results of the two participating teams inconsequential to their fates in the upcoming clash. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka 2015-16, 1st Test at Dunedin

For beginners, Sri Lanka’s win was against the pathetic West Indies which keeps finding new ways of losing. Prior to that series, Sri Lanka were beaten in home series by Pakistan and India which doesn’t reflect too well on their form. New Zealand may have been defeated 2-0 by Australia but the series was far more competitive than the final score-line might suggest. In fact, had it not been for a inexcusable howler by third umpire Nigel Llong in the historic Day-Night Test, New Zealand would have most probably drawn the series.

Another factor is that the Kiwi bowlers were left bereft of swing in the first two games of that series which is exactly what they feed off. They will have ample swing to exploit at home and Tim Southee and Trent Boult will look the dominant force they are known to be. Sri Lankans on the other hand thrive on spin and won’t have much of that to rely on in the New Zealand conditions.

For Sri Lanka to win, their batsman will have to make most of the limited acclimatization opportunity they were provided in form of the three-day warm up game. Their seam bowling attack will have to bend their backs that little bit more and hit right areas with such consistency that they can hope to then beat New Zealand at their own game.

Another cause for worry for the Sri Lankans is that with the exception of skipper Angelo Mathews not one batsman of the current lot has had opportunity to play in these foreign conditions on a frequent basis. To make things worse, Mathews himself has not been in the most spectacular form of late.

Things look great for New Zealand even in the batting department. Kane Williamson is a widely acknowledged world-class batsman and has mastered conditions across the globe. He’ll definitely be hoping to score big at home. Tom Latham, Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor will also hope to score buckets of runs against the lack-luster Sri Lankan bowling attack.

Another major setback for the visitors is the suspension of wicket-keeper batsman Kusal Perera due to his reported consumption of a banned substance. His absence will hurt Sri Lanka’s talent reserves and will also take a psychological toll on them. They will have to find something special to make a match out of this.


Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Kusal Mendis, Udara Jayasundera, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Vishwa Fernando, Kaushal Silva (wk)

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Mitchell Santner, BJ Watling, Mark Craig, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult

Time: 10:30 Local | 21:30 GMT | 03:30 IST

(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)