New Zealand vs Sri Lanka
by Shazeen Ifamy
The two-match test series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka ended with the hosts clean sweeping the series two to none. New Zealand won the first match by wickets and the second by an innings and 58 runs.
Player of the Match 1st Test: Daryl Mitchell
Player of the Match 2nd Test: Henry Nicholls
Player of the Series: Kane Williamson
Where were the Games Won?
The decisive factor of the series was experience both with bat and ball! This is because throughout the series the games ebbed and flowed between the teams hence experience was vital in winning key moments which decided which team would win and lose. With that said New Zealand was the team that won the key moments throughout both games due to their experience as their bowlers were able to consistently bowl in the corridor of uncertainty as they got 21 caught behind dismissals compared to Sri Lanka’s three caught behind dismissals throughout the series. Asides from this, the New Zealand batters used their experience to build big partnerships and score 100s as New Zealand scored four 100s with two of those being double centuries compared to Sri Lanka’s one century. As a result of these small factors, New Zealand was able to win both matches.
What was the Surprise of the Series?
The surprise of the series was the fight shown by Sri Lanka despite the scoreline showing a two-to-none defeat. This is because, in the first match at a ground where Sri Lanka has struggled historically, they put up a good fight against New Zealand with their batting and bowling, taking the game to the last ball of the match to face a heartbreaking defeat. Moreover, the surprises didn’t end there as in the second match, Sri Lanka did the opposite of the first match as they lost the game without a fight by an innings and 58 runs despite a solid resistance by their tailenders with the bat. However, the defeat in the second test cannot be pinned on the poor performance of the players alone as there was poor selection as well. This is because, given the short turnaround time between games, Sri Lanka didn’t utilise their bench and instead played a mentally and physically exhausted fast bowling attack. Asides from this, psychological factors could have also played a part in Sri Lanka’s poor performance in the second test. This is because, entering the series, Sri Lanka had hopes of making the ICC World Test Championship Final but a heartbreaking defeat to New Zealand in the first test ended that dream which could have psychologically impacted the players. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka still surprised a lot by giving New Zealand a fight throughout the series, especially their inexperienced fast bowling attack, who surprised New Zealand with both bat and ball.
Overall, this series was a mixed bag as it provided one thrilling encounter and one bowl-out. Nevertheless, both teams played good cricket and upheld good sportsmanship as well. With that said New Zealand deserved to win as they were simply the better team well aided by experience. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will be disappointed with their performance as they couldn’t win series two to any and enter the World Test Championship final. However, Sri Lanka can be proud of the fight they showed throughout the series even at the brink of defeat. In conclusion, with this series coming to an end so does the ICC World Test Championship cycle for 2021-2023 with India and Australia set to play the finals in June. With that said, Sri Lanka will be happy with their performance in this cycle despite not making the final as they finished fifth on the table compared to seventh last time. On the other hand, New Zealand will be disappointed with their performance as they’ve finished sixth this time compare to them going all the way and winning the ICC Test Championship last time but will be happy to end this cycle with a two-to-none series win.
Notable Performances for Sri Lanka:
Dimuth Karunaratne: 207 Runs with two 50s at an average of 51.75
Dhananjaya de Silva: 191 Runs with one 50 at an average of 63.66
Asitha Fernando: 7 Wickets with a best-match figure of 7-148
Kasun Rajitha: 5 wickets and was Sri Lanka’s best bowler in the series
Sri Lanka’s tour of New Zealand now moves on to its limited-overs leg with three ODI and three T20s starting on the 25th of March with the first ODI. So, do you think Sri Lanka can bounce back in the limited-overs leg? Or will New Zealand continue their home dominance against Sri Lanka? Comment below your answers and your predicted scoreline for the ODI and T20 series.
SI Sports Talks