One thing perhaps even rarer than a full-day's cricket in Sri Lanka during the monsoon season is a New Zealand test victory but captain Ross Taylor is promising an aggressive approach at Galle.
Taylor said the Black Caps can take positives from the washed out one-day series against Sri Lanka - an extremely damp affair in which every match was affected by rain and won 3-0 by the hosts. And it's that optimistic thinking which has Taylor talking about how he wants his batsmen to take the attack to the Sri Lankans, particularly their spin bowlers, in the first test which starts on Saturday.
New Zealand's last test victory was against Zimbabwe in Hamilton in February. Their last away win in the longest form of the game was the triumph over Australia in Hobart in December last year.
Since then Taylor's men have endured a miserable run of results in all forms of the game, thanks mostly to New Zealand's inability to score enough runs. They were swept by India in the two-test series on the subcontinent in August, although they at least competed well in the final match in Bangalore, a five-wicket loss; were beaten 2-0 by the West Indies in the Caribbean in June, and lost a three-match series to South Africa 1-0 at home.
For Taylor, however, the first of two tests against Sri Lanka is an opportunity to balance the ledger slightly and his side will be helped by the retirement from test cricket of spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and absence of Lasith Malinga, a quick bowler who doesn't play tests due to injury concerns and who has created many problems for the Blacks Caps' batsmen.
"We've got an opportunity to create some history," Taylor said. "I think the way we played the last test in India, the way we attacked spin, that's going to be crucial in this next match. And being positive. Obviously a lot of teams think that's a weakness of ours and if we show that's a strength of ours and play positive and aggressive cricket to their spinners, that bodes well for our batsmen and hopefully we can string a few more partnerships together and instead of scoring 300-350, push that out to 400 and put pressure on the opposition.
"We don't have to contend with Muralitharan which is always a nice thing not to contend with. We've still got to play well ourselves and concentrate on what we can do well. But definitely their bowling line up is an area we can target."
New Zealand could go into the match with the batting order from their last test in Bangalore, unless Rob Nicol can push Daniel Flynn or James Franklin out of the middle order.
Jeetan Patel, who impressed in India, will again be the side's spinner in the absence of Dan Vettori, with the only question marks surrounding the seam attack.
Taylor expects the Galle pitch to be relatively lively, and New Zealand do have the weapons to capitalise on that. Doug Bracewell, who was rested for the limited overs matches, is likely to slot straight back in, leaving incumbents Tim Southee and Trent Boult fighting off Chris Martin and Neil Wagner for the last two spots.
"The new ball will be crucial - putting the ball in the right area and asking questions," Taylor said. "England were just out here recently and their seamers had a lot of success. It's not all about spin in this country. As I said, the weather conditions might play their part and not necessarily on day one. As we saw in the one day series, once it did rain the wicket did juice up a little bit and might play into our hands."
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry Email Patrick