In a tour when some of the cricket has been as dreary as
the weather, New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee hopes they can
take some momentum into the first test against Sri Lanka
starting on Saturday.
It is a fairly optimistic statement, given he was referring
to only 28.3 overs after some poor bowling performances in
the previous outings, but in that time the New Zealand pace
attack looked threatening when they had Sri Lanka lurching at
123 for eight in the fifth and final one-day international.
The hosts were in deep trouble on a seaming pitch, but luck
was once again against the Black Caps as the inevitable rain
interruption arrived and the match was washed out.
Southee in particular looked lively in his 5.3 overs, picking
up the wicket of Dinesh Chandimal with his first ball and
finishing with the excellent figures of 3-18.
It was little more than a moral victory, however, because Sri
Lanka won the five-match series 3-0.
"I guess it's some momentum we can take into the test
series," Southee said. "To get another six overs under your
belt in the middle is good practice going into the test.
"There are still a few days until that first test match so,
hopefully, the weather holds off and we can carry on as a
bowling unit from where we have left off in this game."
The bowling unit will be bolstered by Chris Martin, Doug
Bracewell and Neil Wagner, along with spinners Jeetan Patel
and Todd Astle. They can't all fit into the first test lineup
and it's possible new Zealand will carry the same attack into
the match that played the last test against India in August.
Southee and Bracewell were joined by the ever-improving
left-armer Trent Boult and Patel, with James Franklin
They will have a difficult challenge on their hands against a
powerful Sri Lankan batting lineup that includes the likes of
Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan
and Thilan Samaraweera but Southee thinks they have the
potential to put the home side under pressure and set things
up for their own batsmen.
"There are a lot of runs scored between their top five or six
batsmen so it's going to to be a big ask with a fairly
inexperienced bowling lineup, but we've all shown we can
perform at test level," he said.
"It's a good challenge to play against some world-class
batsmen on some flat wickets in their own conditions, so it
will be a big test for the bowlers but I'm sure everyone is
"If you weigh up their batsmen and bowlers, they're a strong
batting side, and if we can do our job as bowlers and set the
game up for the batsmen then there's no reason why we can't
turn this tour around and have a good finish with the test
It has been some time since New Zealand won a test. They won
the year's opening match against Zimbabwe in Napier in
January by an innings, but have since been beaten by South
Africa (1-0), the West Indies (2-0) and India (2-0).
In fact, 2012 has been lean overall. Since the Zimbabwe tour,
they have played 31 matches in all forms of the game and won
just four, lost 21, tied two (which were lost in super
overs), drawn two and experienced two no-results.
It's a dreadful record, and one New Zealand could struggle to
turn around this summer with a tour of South Africa and home
series against England.
Incredibly, the weather forecast for Galle is for five
largely fine days. Many of the players in both sides won't
know what has hit them.