Sri Lanka will welcome back opener Tillakaratne Dilshan for the second and final Test against New Zealand in Colombo starting today after he recovered from a back injury.
Dilshan, whose last innings was an unbeaten 102 in the third match of the five-game ODI series, missed Sri Lanka’s 10-wicket win inside three days in the first Test in Galle.
“Dilshan is pretty much 100 percent fit and Dimuth Karunaratne will make way for him,” captain Mahela Jayawardene told reporters yesterday.
“We want to get Dilshan back into things ready for the Australia tour, which is very important for us and we wouldn’t take a risk with him,” Jayawardene said. “When he left he was in pretty good form and now he feels ready and comfortable and the physio has given him clearance. He wants to play, he is happy and eager.”
There was also good news for New Zealand with fast bowler Tim Southee likely to play after recovering from a groin injury that prevented him for bowling on the final day in Galle.
“He has been having a lot of rehab and participated in training yesterday, did the fitness work and pulled up well so he has been named in the 12 and he is looking good to play,” New Zealand captain Ross Taylor said.
New Zealand have named the same 11 that lost in Galle, plus uncapped leg-spinner Todd Astle, and will make a decision on the final make-up of the side this morning.
“Todd has had a lot of success in New Zealand and is not far from being a genuine all-rounder,” Taylor said.
“He started off as a batsman and part-time spinner and he has worked hard on his bowling and turned himself into a decent spinner,” he said. “He has fitted into the group very well, has got a good work ethic, trains hard and has come into the reckoning.”
New Zealand’s problems against spin have dominated the match build-up after Rangana Herath took 11 wickets in Galle, giving him 46 from eight Tests this year.
Jayawardene said the player’s form gave Sri Lanka a psychological edge.
“Definitely,” he said. “Any bowler who take a 10-wicket haul in a Test match will create problems for the opposition and we will try and ride on that.”
“Rangana gives us that control factor, he has been a steady competitor for us and the way he is bowling right now he will be a big factor for New Zealand, definitely,” Jayawardene said.
New Zealand’s spin phobia has been a key factor in five consecutive Test losses against the West Indies, India and now Sri Lanka, their worst run since 1955.
“[Spin has] been a factor as conditions have been a lot different to what we get at home but the players need to step up and play better,” Taylor said.