The two Tests played between New Zealand and Sri Lanka ended with 2-0 victory for the home side who are the defending Test Champions, but at the same time, the Kiwis registered the most impressive of their victories probably a bit too late!
New Zealand ended their home Test summer with a commanding win over Sri Lanka by an innings and 58 runs. As they sealed 2 Test series by 2-0 at the Basin Reserve, it also marked their 3rd Consecutive Test win. Something that would give the team and fans a lot of relief and hope as they would shift their focus now on 2023-2025 – ICC Test Championship Cycle.
One of the main reasons of their success in 2019-2021 ICC Test Championship Cycle in which they ended up as World Test Champions, was their home dominance which surprisingly faltered in the 2021-2023 edition. The loss against Bangladesh and South Africa scaled down their chances of making to the finals once again.
On the other hand Sri Lanka had an outside chance of making it to the Finals until they lost a nail biter at Christchurch and then completely losing the track at Wellington.
The Series: The First Test at Hagley Oval was a thriller which saw New Zealand clinching victory on the last ball of the Test with a dive by Kane Williamson. Sri Lanka who had dominated most part of the Test couldn’t sustain the pressure on the final day.
In Wellington the New Zealand dominated Lankans throughout the Test, once they had scored a mammoth 580/4; they never let the Test out of their clutches. In both the innings they ensured that Sri Lanka was never let off the hook. Sri Lanka fought hard but in the end they never looked like the team that controlled most part of the first Test.
The 2-0 win also meant that New Zealand’s dominance over Sri Lanka in home conditions continued. They have played 21 Tests against Sri Lanka in New Zealand and have won 13 of them, Sri Lanka has won 2 Tests and 6 have ended in draws.
The Batsmen: Kane Williamson was at his serene best scoring 337 runs in 2 Tests at 168.50. His century at Christchurch ensured a remarkable victory while at Basin Reserve his innings of 215 and a mammoth partnership with Henry Nicholls flattened Sri Lankans. Daryl Mitchell was the second best batsman for the home side. His century in first innings at Christchurch insured that his team doesn’t fall much behind in the game.
On the other hand Sri Lankan batters were steady without being exceptional. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne, was the most successful batsman for the tourists scoring 207 runs at an average of 51.75. His failure to convert his starts in big scores, impaired Sri Lanka most of the times. Similarly Angelo Matthews, Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal’s inability to score big runs consistently haunted the team frequently.
The Bowlers: Tim Southee showed his class in two Tests,when the bowlers from both the sides were not able to extract the movement, he was able to swing and seam the ball at his will. His 11 wickets in 2 tests came only at 17.63. It was fitting that he took the final wicket of the series. He had now taken 370 wickets in 94 Tests with an average of 28.98 and is on verge of making number of records.
Matt Henry who also as impressive as Southee’s new ball partner picking 11 wickets in 2 tests at 23.09. It seems now that he will be preferred partner for Southee as Trent Boult is out of favors. Neil Wagner was out injured and there seems a question mark whether at 37, he will be playing by the time New Zealand play Test Cricket again in December in Bangladesh. In his absence Blair Tickner has done a good job and seems to be preferred option for future.
On the other hand the young Sri Lankan paces attack that impressed in the first Test seemed to have lost the venom in the second. Still Asitha Fernando was the best bowler; he bowled his heart out in both the Tests. In his short career, he had shown a great resilience and is surely have a great future ahead. Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara also played their part.
What lies ahead: New Zealand will be playing 32 Tests in next 2 World Championship Cycle. The next Test assignment is in December in Bangladesh. The Concern is for Sri Lanka. Amid 12 Test nations, South Africa and Sri Lanka’s sudden reduction in Test Cricket is quite concerning. South Africa will play only 28 Tests and Sri Lanka 25, the lowest among top 9 Test countries.
It’s time for the ICC to step in and take care of the interest of Test cricket especially in the mid tier countries, which are struggling to met ever increasing cost of organization of longest format of the game.