Southee set to start as batsmen seek mojo
Let's start with some good news.
The one bright light from New Zealand's Galle-ing first test defeat, Tim Southee, should be fit for tomorrow's second and final test against Sri Lanka.
The swing bowler took 4-46 in Sri Lanka's first innings in Galle but did not mark out his run in the second because of a groin strain.
But Southee came through training yesterday and declared himself a likely starter as the beleaguered Black Caps try to claw themselves off the canvas.
Southee claimed the tourists had "trained the house down" since arriving in Colombo and had "a little bee in their bonnet" as they tried to reverse their fortunes - "not only for the team but for the people back home".
New Zealand's bowling certainly was not the problem in the 10-wicket loss as they knocked over Sri Lanka's powerful lineup for 247 in their first innings.
But their brittle batting was overwhelmed by the guile and variation of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath in both innings and, presuming he has not been bowling in the nets, it is hard to envisage a sudden turnaround in Colombo.
"One thing over here is you're never short of net bowlers," Southee said.
"So there's plenty of spin being thrown down to the boys at training. We've trained well in the last couple of days and hopefully they can take that out into the middle, along with some confidence and show what we are actually capable of. We're going to do our best to go out and do a performance that's worthy of the Black Caps."
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor has forecast changes and James Franklin and Doug Bracewell appear most under threat.
Franklin took 50 balls to score seven runs in his two combined innings and succumbed to Herath on both occasions.
Bracewell went wicketless and leaked runs too quickly in his match figures of 0-102.
Waiting in the wings are Rob Nicol, Todd Astle, Neil Wagner and Chris Martin.
New Zealand Cricket chairman Chris Moller yesterday said coach Mike Hesson would be hauled in for a "please explain" on return to the country.
While no-one is expecting a win, a bit of fight and application from the players would at least take some heat off the coach.
"I know we haven't been up to scratch lately and I guess everyone's a bit down but we can't dwell on what's already happened," Southee said. "It's been a hard trip but we just need to trust our techniques and trust our ability and just commit to our game plan.
"We've shown at various stages that we can compete with them. We just need a couple of guys to get in and, if a couple of guys get in, then it's a lot easier to face their spinners once you've been out in the middle for a while.
"But no-one's applied themselves for long enough to get on top of them. We're not thinking that we can't compete with them, we think we can win this test match and that's what we're going out to do."