Sri Lanka vs New Zealand, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Dimuth Karunaratne
Karunaratne advised that his young bowlers to bowl tighter than they did against England. @ AFP

After experiencing the highs and lows of Test cricket this year, Sri Lanka square off with New Zealand when the first of the three-match series gets underway at Galle on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka whitewashed South Africa in February 3-0 in a historic away defeat but were reduced to an equally embarrassing defeat against England at home.

However, the experiences against England, Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne admitted, have forced the team to rethink their plans specially with some of the key players, who have either announced retirement or nursing injuries.

Rangana Herath is no longer available and neither is the other lead spinner in Dilruwan Perera,who is recovering from injury. Left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara is not even in the squad. Karunaratne has largely to depend on Akila Dananjaya, who has played only five Tests, and Lasith Embuldeniya, who has played only two, and none at home.

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Karunaratne advised that his young bowlers to bowl tighter than they did against England. “When we played against England, we kept attacking them too much with our bowlers, and we couldn’t stop the runs,” Karunaratne said ahead of the first Test.

“But we have that experience with [the loss against] England now, and we have some new plans. In these conditions, rather than giving away a lot of runs, we need to dry them up. Even though we lost the toss in all three of those games, we still had a good chance, and I think this is where we made the mistake. If their batsmen attack us, we need to know how to deal with that.”

Drying up runs may be the only piece only piece of advice the captain can give with the pitch being more batting-friendly than it usually is in Galle.

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With rain being predicted through the five days, the pitch has been under cover which may make the job for the batsmen a little tougher. But thanks to the return of Angelo Mathews, who missed the South Africa Tests due to injury, the batting department seems looks in good stead.

“Angelo and Dinesh Chandimal are in this squad now, so there might be a few changes to the top order that played in South Africa,” Karunaratne said.

“It’s different conditions as well here. We have to pick the best batsmen to counter spin. I think it will be a good wicket for the batsmen, but because we haven’t been able to see the pitch properly over the last few days, we can only make those decisions about selection tomorrow morning.”