Wellington: New Zealand return to familiar environs after being on the road – and quite successfully at that. They face Sri Lanka, who were swept by England at home and are looking to make amends.
A Test series win over Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates isn't something many teams achieve these days. Yet, this is what New Zealand, who were playing Tests after a gap of seven months, did against Sarfraz Ahmed and his men when they won twice in Abu Dhabi to take the three-match series 2-1.
Now back home, where they have pleasant memories of bowling England out for 58 at the start of this year, New Zealand will look to begin their season on a high with a two-match series against Sri Lanka in Wellington.
The hosts have the results, players in form and conditions in favour – three essentials for putting in a good performance at any venue – and against Sri Lanka, who were swept 3-0 at home by a rampaging England side, they will back their chances.
The hosts have already named their XI, with Neil Wagner returning to a bowling attack containing Ajaz Patel as its lone spinner-
For Sri Lanka, the onus will rest on seniors like Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne with the bat and Suranga Lakmal and Dilruwan Perera with the ball.
Karunaratne had a good series against England, scoring three half-centuries and will look to continue that form here. He will need support from Chandimal and Mathews, both of whom had ordinary returns against England.
Mathews, however, scored a hundred against New Zealand XI in a warm-up match and has had some batting time before the series opener. Lakmal will, similarly, be required to lead a slightly inexperienced bowling attack comprising Dushmanth Chameera, Lahiru Kumara and Nuwaan Pradeep.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, BJ Watling (wk), Tim Southee, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner
Sri Lanka (from): Dinesh Chandimal (c), Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Pradeep, Dimuth Karunaratne
Pitch and conditions
Such overcast conditions can be ideal for fast bowlers with the new ball and the team winning the toss may be tempted to bowl first.
Stats and trivia
15-19 December 2018
Start time: 11:00 local (2200 GMT -1 day)