Sri Lanka National Cricket team left the country yesterday for New Zealand for a tour which will get underway on Sunday (21 December) with a practice game against NZ A in Queenstown. The team is to play two Test matches and seven ODIs. Christchurch will host the opening Test match of the series on 26 December.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews and his team received a traditional buddhist blessing before setting off on a tour of New Zealand as part of their World Cup preparations.
But Mathews insists his side will be concentrating on the two tests and seven one day internationals against the Black Caps before they start to concentrate on the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand beginning in February.
“We will have to get used to the climate and the wickets as soon as possible. We have about two months before the start of the World Cup but we are not thinking of the World Cup as yet,” said Mathews.
Sri Lanka will be without their talisman, Mahela Jayawardene, who recently retired from test matches and Mathews admitted: “It is a big challenge without Mahela. It will take a long time if we try to find a replacement for him.”
Jayawardene will join the team for the one day internationals and the World Cup before retiring from all forms of the game while another veteran, Kumar Sangakkara, has also announced that he will retire from one day internationals after the World Cup.
Sachithra Senanayake achieves career-best ranking
Off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake has achieved career-best rankings in the latest Reliance ICC ODI Player Rankings following the conclusion of the seven-match series with England, which Sri Lanka won by 5-2.
In the ICC Players Rankings for ODI Bowlers, Sachithra Senanayake was the highest-mover from either side after taking five wickets for 68 runs in two ODIs.
The 29-year-old off-spinner, who was just cleared by the ICC on 9 December to bowl after correcting his illegal bowling action, has vaulted 18 places to a career-high seventh position, 22 ratings points behind England’s James Anderson.
Rangana Herath has moved up six places to 14th position after taking seven wickets for 175 runs in four matches. This now means Sri Lanka has two spinners inside the top 20.
In the batting table, Tillakaratne Dilshan has moved up two places to seventh following his series contribution of 357 runs. He is now one ratings point clear of South Africa’s Quinton de Kock.
There were also positive progressions for Dinesh Chandimal (up five places to 68th) and Thisara Perera (up 16 places to 91st), while Kumar Sangakkara, who was the top run-getter in the series with 454 runs, has consolidated his fourth spot and now trails third-ranked Hashim Amla of South Africa by 17 ratings points.
Meanwhile, in the Reliance ICC ODI Team Rankings, the 5-2 series win has seen Sri Lanka increase its lead over England by six points to 110 ratings points. Captain Angelo Mathews’ side is now two points adrift of third-placed South Africa.