New Zealand coach Gary Stead has called on his side to be wary of Sri Lanka and give their absolute best when the two sides square off with each other in the two-match Test series, beginning August 14 at Galle International Stadium.
Notably, New Zealand have a poor Test record at Sri Lanka home soil as they have never won a series since their 2-0 victory over the island nation in their first tour in 1984. They have managed to seal just two out of 14 Tests they played against Sri Lanka during that period.
With Angelo Mathews recalled in the Sri Lanka Test squad, Stead asked his side to be at the top of their game in order to seal the series.
"They've got the likes of [Angelo] Mathews back and he adds some glue to their middle order as well. They'll come into this series and the Test championship with some confidence I'm sure. We're going to have to be at the very top of our game," the International Cricket Council (ICC) quoted Stead as saying.
The New Zealand coach further predicted that leg-spinner Todd Astle and off-spinning all-rounder William Somerville are likely to be the key players at the venue which is expected to provide more assistance to the slower bowlers.
"I'd be mightily surprised if it doesn't spin [in Galle].You want the stumps in play as often as you can and look at the success of [Rangana] Herath, who took a lot of wickets over a long period here.They [Astle and Somerville] are different bowlers, and different in height. Mitch [Santner] probably creates more bounce and sometimes that can be an advantage and in these conditions sometimes a disadvantage," he said.
However, the Kane Williamson-led Black Caps hold a slight advantage heading into the upcoming Tests as they had won each of their previous five series.