Sri Lanka remain content with their rub of the green

THAT'S NOVEL: Sri Lanka's Suranga Lakmal and Shaminda Eranga examine the wicket.
Maarten Holl/Fairfax NZ

THAT'S NOVEL: Sri Lanka's Suranga Lakmal and Shaminda Eranga examine the wicket.

The nervous laughter said more than Lahiru Thirimanne could.

Where the Sri Lankan batsman's from - Moratuwa - pitches don't get great grass coverage. No-one was required to bat on the Basin Reserve yesterday but the prospect of having to do it tomorrow left Thirimanne wide-eyed and practically speechless.

"The first test [at Hagley Oval] we saw some green on the top. But this one is even greener, I think," an incredulous Thirimanne said ahead of the second test between Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

He and the rest of Sri Lanka's top-order batsmen had two hits in the Basin Reserve nets yesterday, in an attempt to acclimatise to what awaits them in the middle. Historically, Basin pitches don't go sideways a huge amount, with swing often being a bowler's best weapon rather than seam.

Leaving as many balls as possible was the best way to survive in these conditions, Thirimanne said. He apparently expanded on that theme when he and the one-man member of the travelling Sri Lankan press continued the interview in Sinhala.

The odd team can get so spooked by the greenery that they've almost lost Basin tests before they've begun. But Thirimanne said that far from being discouraged by their eight-wicket defeat in Christchurch, or the lush wicket block here, the team believes it was beaten by just one man in the first test.

"In the first innings Brendon [McCullum] batted really well. I think that's the main turning point in that match. He played one good innings and the ball-game changed.

"In the second innings we bowled good areas and they could not get runs very easily so we just want to bowl those same areas and make them work hard for runs."

He added that "we have a plan for Brendon".

Part of that is left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. A hamstring injury saw the man who sits third on the ICC test bowling rankings forced to miss the game on Hagley Oval but Thirimanne said the 36-year-old would be fit for this match.

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Herath will come in for offspinner Tharindu Kaushal, who copped plenty of stick from McCullum on what was his test debut.

 - The Dominion Post

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