The task of beating Sri Lanka in their own den was always going to be stiff,
but the task of equalling the series has become double difficult for the New
Zealand side because of the illness of half their side; who are suffering
from various forms of a stomach bug. And with the scoreline reading 1-0 in favour
of the hosts - in a two test match series - things do not look good for the tourists.
Click for Live Score Card of Sri Lanka vs New Zealand
That the Kiwis had dug their own grave was evident from the way the pitch had
behaved after the tourists had won the toss and elected to field first. With
two spinners in their side, the New Zealanders shouldn't have had any doubts
about batting first, and one can be rest assured that the same mistake will
not be repeated again.
Having said that, the Kiwis would be disappointed with the performance of their
spin bowlers, especially that of Jeetan Patel. On pitches that are very
conducive to the slow bowling, Patel ended with figures that would have barely
managed to flatter any of the selectors. The batsmen also did not have a great
match, and with the exception of Tim McIntosh in the first innings and
Daniel Vettori in the second essay, not too many batsmen inspired any
confidence and the top-order will need to get back to the drawing boards to
be able to cope with the likes of Murali and Ajantha Mendis.
Former Kiwi batsman, Mark Richardson's remark in his column, that according
to him, Muralitharan still chucked on some of the deliveries he bowled, may
come back to haunt the Kiwi batsmen in the second game. Ruffling the feathers
of a champion bowler is the last thing one would want to do when the batsmen
have already found it difficult to read him.
However, the Kiwi issues do not stop at Murali. It is even the quick bowlers
that would be a worry for the opposition, more so, the likes of Thilan Thushara
and Nuwan Kulasekera. Thushara had had a particularly good first game,
and Kulasekera has been amongst the wickets for some time in international cricket
Tillakaratne Dilshan is in the form of his life. After being made to open in
the ODIs and the T20s, he was asked to do the same in the test matches, and
he not only came out unscathed but also smashed the bowling beyond recognition.
Such has been his batting, that the Kiwis will have to look to bowl to him like
one would bowl to Virender Sehwag; cramp him for room and get the ball
to jag back in.
With almost half the team struggling with their fitness, it will need them
a miracle to comeback in the series.