Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews believes that New Zealand’s pace duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee are “on par with” South Africa’s Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel”.
Mathews’ comments come after Boult and Southee took 13 out of the 20 Sri Lankan wickets during the first Test in Christchurch.
“The New Zealand attack is one of the best,” Mathews said. “Especially in New Zealand, when the ball is swinging and seaming, they are very hard to face. They’ve got guys who can unsettle you as well. Mark Craig is also a very good spinner, so they’ve got variety in their attack and Southee and Boult have been doing a great job for them in the last few years. They are definitely on par with Steyn and Morkel. They’ve been taking a lot of wickets with the new ball, and striking with the older ball as well, so they’ve got the skill.”
In order to deal with Boult and Southee’s swing, Sri Lanka have been “using two-piece balls that swing more than the four-piece balls”.
“Just to counter the swing and try and get used to it, we’ve been using two-piece balls that swing more than the four-piece balls,” Mathews said. ” It’s just to make us feel better, because that’s what we can expect tomorrow from Southee and Boult. We’ve got to counter them and try and push them back.”
Mathews also noted that he is hoping Sri Lanka’s habit of bouncing back after a first Test defeat will continue during the ongoing tour of New Zealand.
“In the recent past, Sri Lanka has come back really hard after losing the first Test,” Mathews said. “It happened to us in England where we almost lost the first Test and we came back hard and won the second Test. We’ve got to approach it in a positive way – not put too much pressure on ourselves.
“That’s the confidence and the self belief that the team has. We believe that we can come back and win in any conditions, at home or away. Whether we lose 2-0 or 1-0 it doesn’t matter, we’ve got no choice but to go out and play aggressively.”
Mathews is also confident that veteran batsman Kumar Sangakkara will excel during the series.
“When Kumar fails, well, it’s a coach’s nightmare,” he said. “You have to throw balls at him for hours and hours and hours. He’s a very hard worker. He’s been spending a lot of time in the nets and he’s desperate to go out there and get some runs, so I’m pretty sure he will do it in the match.”