Kiwis looking for top Test slot

Galle: New Zealand have a chance of securing the top spot in Test cricket when they take on Sri Lanka in a two-match series from Wednesday, exactly a month after their cruel World Cup defeat to England.

New Zealand, with 109 points in Test cricket, are ranked behind India on 113 points, but a 2-0 series win in Sri Lanka will see the Kiwis leapfrog the Asian heavyweights.

Test rankings have added relevance with the new, two-year ICC World Test Championship now under way, culminating in a 2021 final at Lord's between the top two teams.

Crisis-ridden Sri Lanka will be wary of providing a rank turning wicket in the first Test in Galle after being outsmarted by England in the most recent encounter at the venue.

England overcame the battle with a variety of off-, leg- and left-arm spin as the trio of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jack Leach played a key role in a 3-0 series sweep.

The Kiwis too are carrying plenty of spin options and are likely to play two of them. Bombay-born left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel claimed five wickets in the warm-up game in Negombo and he is likely to be the second spinner to leggie Todd Astle.

Although, seam is New Zealand's strength, they are likely to stick to two seamers with all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme coming in as the third option.

Trent Boult will be the number one pick while they will have to make a call between Tim Southee and Neil Wagner, possibly the latter, who picked up nine wickets in New Zealand's last Test match.

But the hosts will be no pushover, as they showed by winning their recent 2-0 series in South Africa, becoming the first Asian nation to do so.

"They are a strong team. They will come into this series with lot of confidence behind them after what happened in South Africa," said New Zealand coach Gary Stead.

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